Jim McGuiggan, Author
Our Story is his Story. If we are to tell it faithfully—an embodied telling as his People—we must make it his Story that we tell. Only when it is his story can it be our story if indeed we are “his body”. Some other “body” may embody some other story but the “body of Christ” has no other Story to tell, no other Story to re-enact, no other Story to re-tell and sing and Supper in its public and corporate worship.
As sure as Israel had no other Story to tell about its God, its deliverance, its Exodus, Red Sea crossing, its Sinai covenant, its Spirit-guided journey through the wilderness [Isaiah 63:11-14] and its inheriting “the land of promise,” that surely the NT People of God has no other Story than the Story of Jesus: the incarnation of God in the virgin birth, the sinless life, the death, the resurrection, ascension and exaltation of Jesus and his sending of the Spirit to indwell a new temple, a new People, a new priestly Nation and his coming again.
If the Story the NT people tell is his Story it’s a Story of suffering and then glory. That aspect of the Story is not hinted at in a few verses here and there. It’s the Story developed in and by the entire message of Moses, Psalms and Prophets; at least that’s what Jesus told the two men on the way to Emmaus and then to others later [see Luke 24:25-27 and 44]. Read those texts for yourself!
This is the Story the People of God embody before the world! Romans 8:17-39—the entire section—is one of suffering and then glory. In 8:17 Paul says that we will be glorified with him providing we suffer with him [as the People of God that suffers through its individuals]. The Greek text says we are, joint-heirs, jointly-glorified if we are “joint-suffers.” Romans 8:29 is the link between what the creation and the children of God hope for and the fulfilment of that for which they hope.
This suffering was no ad hoc arrangement it was an eternally purposed part of God’s eternal purpose. The blessed Lord Jesus modeled the way to human redemption and God purposed that Jesus’ brothers/children re-enact and embody the way of Christ, existing and living in “his image”—suffering on its way to glory as did its Head and Lord. That’s the Story it preaches [1 Corinthians 1:18-24 and 2:2]. To this day it remains a fool’s message preached by weak and powerless fools [1 Corinthians 4:9-10] and preached to a Church that often wants to reign like kings and lords [4:8-13].
This is the Story too in 2 Corinthians 4.5-12. There the glorious treasure of the gospel is carried in earthen vessels that are fragile, easily broken, constantly suffering breakage. This isn’t talking about moral weakness but about suffering and death, about an embodied Story that means suffering and death for the People of God [the Community of Witness that images Jesus] and life for others. Read the entire section for yourself!
The way to glorification and reigning with the Lord Jesus is: The Cross and the Glory to follow. [1 Peter 1:10-11 and elsewhere in Peter with Luke 24:25-27, 44 and see Matthew 21:42, Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:5-8]. The rejection of Jesus continues in the rejection of his new Temple, his new People.
We’re simply not prepared to accept that until Jesus returns he chooses to rehearse his Story—his embodied Story, his Story which is a message of, first the cross and then glory! And he chooses to re-enact that Story in his Body the Church for the blessing and life of the world. In this world his Story is not reasonable, respectable, neat or well adapted. His Holy Father could not be tamed or domesticated by his people Israel and nothing has changed. We can’t have the glory without the cross. The hymn, The Way of the Cross Leads Home isn’t just about the truth that we get forgiveness of sins by Christ’s death—it’s also about the only way to faithful obedience and gospel imaging. The hymn: Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone isn’t as popular as it used to be and that’s the case for more than one reason. But, then again, such a hymn wouldn’t have suited Peter when Jesus was right there beside him.
There’s something sobering about that section in Luke 14:25-35 where three times [three times!] the Lord Jesus said, “If you’re not prepared to do these you can’t be my disciples.” Go on, read the text for yourself and feel its weight!
If we won’t accept co-crucifixion with him as our lot until we are vindicated by our coming Vindicator we cannot belong to the Christ. Taking up our crosses [Matthew 16:21-25] is only another way off saying: “Make my cross your cross.” We know that that’s true because there aren’t two crosses/two deaths. There is only one and we make it that cross, that death—his and by faith we make it ours [Romans 6:3-4, his death, Gal 2:20; 6.14]. His cross is ours. Not the kind of death we choose. His death and his alone is the death we must be incorporated into. It only becomes our death IF it is his death we’re baptized into!
Paul doesn’t see himself crucified on a cross alongside Jesus—he sees himself crucified on Jesus’ cross [Galatians 6.14]. “God forbid that I should glory in anything except the cross of Jesus Christ by which the world was crucified to me and I [was crucified] to the world.” I’ve emphasized “by which” to make the obvious point that it was by Christ’s cross that Paul was crucified. What is true of Paul is true of Peter and everyone else.
By being baptized into the crucified and resurrected Jesus [Romans 6:3-5] by faith we make Jesus’ cross and the resurrection ours. We would say with Paul [in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with [co-crucified, one Greek word] Christ.” In saying that he is saying he did what Jesus called Peter and whoever to do, “Make my cross yours!”
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.