Proclaiming Christ Crucified
1 Corinthians 2:1-2 - "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
If you are anything like me, you have read this passage countless times along the way in your daily Bible studies. About eight months ago I reread it yet again, and I had for the first time an epiphany of some sort, just by meditating on what I had just absorbed...
It struck a bolt of conviction within my soul.
I knew of many Christian preachers and apologists that "proclaim the testimony of God with lofty speech and wisdom" that were wise well beyond their years and they absolutely blew my mind with their messages! I personally had spent much time putting together messages that I prayed for wisdom beforehand that would communicate truth to my hearers or readers in a new and fresh way that would leave them dumbfounded and wondering how a "Common Joe" or in my case, a real life "Blue Collar Bill" could have possibly put together such wise teachings!
I must confess that I stood guilty as charged.
But, at that moment of conviction that I had, when I read what Paul had communicated, I made a commitment to learn and do precisely what was written :
"For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
The tremendous difference between Paul and I was that he had lived in a time where crucifixion was the norm. He had seen the horrors with his own eyes all the time. I live in a different era and have only read and heard selected stories about how brutal crucifixion actually was. Come to think of it, much of what I had read, heard, and seen, seemed to be conflicting in a variety of ways. I had not given the matter much thought, because I had been too preoccupied and guilty of wanting to "proclaim the testimony of God with lofty speech and wisdom". It was now time for me to investigate and research crucifixion in antiquity for myself.
I then dedicated roughly six months of my time, energy, research, resources, money, and gathered scholarly materials to strictly focus in on this one subject. I had never devoted myself to this kind of investigation on strictly one topic before, but I felt "led" to try and understand how brutal and barbaric crucifixion actually was in antiquity. The sole purpose of this investigation was to get a proper understanding of what Jesus actually went through on His way to Calvary.
I knew that with the outcome I would have an entirely new perspective on the way I look at the Cross. I also knew that I had, like so many other Christians have had, taken this remarkable symbol and icon for granted. Crosses are everywhere and we see them almost every day. Most of us probably even wear one around our neck or have one hanging in our home. Please do note that the Cross should never be an object of worship, but merely a symbol of remembrance, and viewed for a time of humble reflection.
Whether it is an empty cross representing that Jesus has indeed risen or a crucifix that has an image of Jesus only to remember Him crucified, I pray that this presentation will help you better understand the agonizing physical, emotional, and spiritual pain that Jesus endured for you.
At that moment of conviction I had, I truly believe that this is one of things that Paul meant when he said:
"For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
May every time you look at a Cross going forward after you read this presentation, have you appreciate His selfless and brutal sacrifice even more.
We seem to get caught up in other matters like theology, philosophy, preaching, etc.. and often neglect this all too important subject. Martin Hengel sums this thought up rather well, on the last page, and final sentence of his 90 page book "Crucifixion" published in 1977. This thought of his was penned down over four decades ago and I do believe it still stands true to this day.
"Reflection on the harsh reality of crucifixion in antiquity may help us to overcome the acute loss of reality which is to be found so often in present theology and preaching."
-Crucifixion by Martin Hengel 1926-2009
German historian of religion, focusing Hellenistic Period of early Judaism and Christianity
I would like to personally thank three individuals who helped me out tremendously and pointed me in the right direction for this investigation. Without their help, encouragement, expertise, wisdom, and friendship, I would have never gotten as deep into this research as I would have liked to go.
Dr. Timothy Joel McGrew
Professor of Philosophy
Chair of the Department of Philosophy
Dr. Michael R. Licona
American New Testament Scholar
Associate Professor in Theology
Houston Baptist University
Apologist James Smiley Bishop
James Bishop's Theological Rationalism
Because of this investigation that I engulfed myself with, I now have trouble singing hymns about the Cross or even looking at one without shedding a tear. In all honesty, this is the way it should have been all along. It has made me appreciate Jesus' sacrifice even more and I fell deeper in love with Him in the process. I pray that the same happens for you.
John 15:13 - "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
(audio)1of11 - Introduction
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