Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified

Edward Robinson, Exmouth

No doubt the apostle waited long upon the Holy Spirit before writing this crucial verse, 1 Cor. 2. 2. It is one of the most comprehensive in the whole of scripture, 'For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified'. That word 'determined' has not here its usual meaning but is elsewhere rendered, 'did not think it well'. What control over the mind did the apostle manifest in his wisdom as we consider for instance his writing of such epistles as Ephesians and Philippians-and his calculated omissions. Not only did he consider any limitations in his readers' capacity in understanding but also their moral and spiritual need.

Paul then continues with the two particular lines of teaching he had in mind. First what we might call the positive line, 'Jesus Christ'. This litle, amongst the great many employed in the New Testament, is used extensively by the Holy Spirit, the divine Author. These titles, apart from those of our Lord Jesus, are used always with great discrimination, always with regard to the coniext in which they are applied, and not just to distinguish one person from another. Perhaps in this there is a lesson for us also as to Whom we address in prayer, 1 Cor. 14. 15 (although this is, of course, a matter of the heart rather than the head).

To revert then to Paul's use in the verse under consideration of this expressive title 'Jesus Christ'. It is so very versatile, each time in its use suggestive of some glorious aspect of Him of whom we read, 'in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily', Col. 2.9. There is in this title, 'Jesus Christ', something quite fascinating, dare one say, without irreverance even to the Holy Spirit. It would especially seem to carry the suggestion in it of another and entirely different order of man, 'Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever', Heb. 13.8. Again, it would carry the thought of what is foundational, 'For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ', 1 Cor. 3. 11. This is the order of man which Paul presents as the end result of his teaching, a positive end in his presentation of 'Jesus Christ' whether to the Corinthians or (necessarily, if we are to get the gain of such scriptures) in regard of ourselves. In other words, we require to 'change our man', no longer engaged with ourselves, but wife 'another'.

Paul would emphasize this as he says, 'For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren', Rom. 8. 29. It is doubtless God's intention to people heaven with this order of man, a term which, as often in scripture, includes sisters equally as well as brothers. Characteristically, John says, 1. 17, 'the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ'- The simple title 'Jesus', as we should expect, is normally in use in the Gospels, and also where appropriate by Luke in the Acts, though more frequently he speaks of the Lord Jesus. Paul, of course, uses this tide 'Jesus' normally only where required by the context. May we thus learn reverence in speaking to or of Him and in ending prayer in that Name.

'And him crucified' is the ending of the verse we have been considering. Here we have together in one phrase the greatest possible incongruity-heaven's best and earth's worst. The arch enemy of Christ and of our souls, the devil, had control of evil men prepared to do his bidding. Over against all their devices was One who was here to do the will of God and accomplish the fulfilment of His purposes from all eternity. He could say in the most terrible circumstances conceivable, 'Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour', John 12. 27. The ministry of Paul at this time is suited to the prevailing conditions and to the character of those to whom he addressed himself. He rightly says 'Christ died for our sins': perhaps more arresting is Paul's other word to the Corinthians, 'and him crucified'. Conditions today in the world, in this country and in Christendom are seriously deteriorating, morally and spiritually, and there is a need to meet them in the preaching of the Gospel and ministry of the word.