The Word of the Cross (1): The Need for a Fresh Revelation
In a few days I will be participating in a Christian conference on the topic of “The Word of the Cross”. The title is directly taken from 1 Corinthians 1:18:
For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
The footnote in the Recovery Version of the Bible points out:
The word of the cross is the utterance, the speaking, the preaching, of the cross. Such preaching is despised and considered foolishness by those who are perishing, but it is honored and received as the power of God by us who are being saved. In his ministry Paul stressed the cross as the center of God’s salvation (Gal. 2:20; 3:1; 5:11, 24; 6:14; Eph. 2:16; Phil. 2:8; 3:18; Col. 2:14).
The Bible is full of vivid imagery concerning Christ’s crucifixion. Some of the most poignant portions of the Old Testament, such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53, speak graphically about the suffering of our Savior. Each of the New Testament gospels emphasize particular aspects of Calvary and do not spare the reader the details of His death. And yet despite such fulsome description, it is possible for believers to become inured and unaffected by such portions.
Perhaps this is a natural reaction to the excesses of Roman Catholicism and its obsession with the physical sufferings of Christ. Dark and heavy religious veils blanket our minds when it comes to the topic of the cross. The mere mention of the crucified Christ may immediately trigger pictures of Renaissance-era images which fill the hallways of great museums and, unfortunately, our thoughts.
The vision of the cross is not something physical or mental, but spiritual. For this we need God to grant us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him (Eph. 1:17-18).
The Lord wants to reveal Himself as such to us. Consider the below portions of Scripture (with my emphases added in bold), which I never quite appreciated until recent days:
When therefore it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and while the doors were shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them, Peace be to you. And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced at seeing the Lord. (John 20:19-20)
And as they were speaking these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, Peace to you. But they were terrified and became frightened and thought they beheld a spirit. And He said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your heart? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you behold Me having. And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. (Luke 24:36-40)
It is beyond our comprehension that the resurrected Christ is both a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b) and also in possession of a resurrected body. Mysteriously, this spiritual body bears the scarred wounds of the cross. His hands, His side, and His feet — those “five bleedings wounds He bears / received on Calvary” — bear eternal testimony to His accomplishment on the cross.
Today the Christ that we have cannot be separated from His crucifixion and resurrection. The Christ that we know is a crucified and resurrected Christ. We cannot experience crucifixion or resurrection apart from this Person. This Person bears the scars of love in a glorified body and yet indwells us as Spirit. The gospels show us how this Christ eagerly revealed Himself as the crucified One to His first disciples. The epistles reveal a similar presentation to the next generation of believers, such as those in Galatia “before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly portrayed crucified” (Gal. 3:1), proving that this revelation is not physical but spiritual. Through the anointing of the Spirit and the penetration of the word of God, may all of us today be brought into a fresh spiritual seeing of the crucified Christ.