Not Just in the Past
On Sunday evenings, where we are studying 1 Corinthians, we just heard the Apostle Paul summarize the gospel: Jesus Christ and him crucified (2:2). That message was the stumbling block for Jewish people who couldn’t fathom a humbled God. And it was ridiculous for the philosophically minded Greeks, who couldn’t fathom a “weak” God. But for us, who know that message to be the truth, it is all of our hope: Jesus Christ was crucified. He died to save and forgive wicked, proud, inconsistent, and spiritually lazy people like you and me.
Today, I’d like to focus on one particular aspect of that message. We might read that word “crucified” and think about it as only something in the past. Of course, there is an important sense in which we’d be right. Jesus was shamed. He was punished in sinners’ place. He was killed. But, that’s over. He was raised. He is no longer dead. But, he is still crucified.
The tense of this word “crucified” refers to something that begins in the past, but continues up till now (i.e., the perfect tense). First Corinthians 2:2 is saying that Jesus will always be the crucified one… He was crucified. But, there’s an important sense in which he still is. Even now, Jesus’s resurrected and glorified body has the holes from nails and the spear.
There’s a powerful lesson for us to see, here. If we think that greatness is only strength and power, we’ve missed the greatness of Jesus’s kingdom, where the humble are exalted (Matt 18:4; 20:26; 23:12). Jesus is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. That is not only because he is the eternal Son of God, our king, and creator. He has become even greater because he was and is crucified. Far from being something shameful in heaven (if something shameful could even enter), Jesus’s scars are his glory.
Do you remember the worship service in Heaven in Revelation 5? Do you remember why they praise him? Why the living creatures, and the elders around the throne, and many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands join their voices to worship him? It’s not because he is the creator, or because he’s the Son of God… it’s because he was crucified: they sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain [also perfect tense], to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
Jesus’s humility makes him great. And the message that our Lord is crucified even now calls us to live a life of like humility.