The Immense Significance of Jesus Christ: Crucified, Risen, and Exalted (continued)
He Died In My Place: He Died for All
And what an "all" Paul saw; it comes out in considerable fullness in his ministry. What Paul saw first of all was that death, that ignominious death, that shameful death, that awful death, was his own death. Paul saw what God thought of him; it was God's attitude toward him. He could say: "That Man on that Cross like that, in all that state of degradation and shame and helpless weakness, despised and rejected, all that - that was me, that was me, that was what God thinks of my humanity. He died for me (but you know that the meaning is 'in my place'). When He died, I died, that was my death, and that was God's conception of me, Saul of Tarsus!" Oh, what a revolution! He had a great idea of himself and his own abilities; but, look, this is God unveiling Saul of Tarsus, but more than that: "He died in my place." And that was a death, a new idea about death.
Moreover Paul saw, and I am keeping, of course, firstly to his teaching; I am not reading in anything, making up something. You can sit down with it yourself and prove everything that I am saying from the New Testament. He saw not only that that death, that awful death, but he saw that it was the death of the whole human race in Adam. What does Paul say? "Because we thus judge that One died in the place of all, therefore all died." Coneybeare says, "It was the death of the whole race ...'As in Adam all die.'" This is the new conception to the Cross of the Lord Jesus. Our death, the death of the whole race, the humanity to which we belong by nature, the whole - all died. But then Paul came to see this also, that in the death of Jesus it was not death as an end; it was a death that destroyed Death. In a sense, it was a death which was the end of Death. "He tasted death for all men," it is true; but then, "He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."
A Cosmic Cross: A Cosmic Death
So, from the death of Death, which Paul saw in the Cross, the death of Death has taken place: Christ is risen, He is alive forevermore. And Paul saw more: he saw that that Cross was, to use the word we have used before, it was a cosmic Death. That is, it reached out beyond the individual and beyond the race to that whole encompassing realm of evil forces which had brought about this condition, making that judgment necessary. And as he went to the Cross, Jesus said, "Now is the prince of this world (cosmos) cast out." And later the apostle said, "He stripped off principalities and powers ... made a show of them openly ... triumphing over them in His Cross." A cosmic Cross, a cosmic Death, touching the uttermost bounds of the lower heavenlies, destroying him that had the power of death, that is, satan.
Paul came to see all this when he saw by revelation of God His Son revealed "in him," and so, let us come further over unto this matter of the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Exaltation of the Lord Jesus. You see,
If the revelation of Jesus Christ comprehends all those three things that we have said, comprehends the destiny of humanity (one side of humanity's destiny is judgment, out of Christ: the other side of humanity is glory, in Christ) -
If in the seeing of Jesus Christ in his heart revealed, Paul saw the nature and the dynamic of all true ministry during this whole dispensation -
If he also saw, began to see, and saw with increasing fullness as he went on, the nature and the vocation of the Church now and in the ages to come -
If he saw all those three mighty things in the Face of Jesus Christ, in the Person of Jesus Christ - that is, in the Presence and Revelation of Jesus Christ -
If he saw all that (and remember, this is the vital thing for this morning), Paul saw that all that human destiny, all that ministry through the centuries, and all that place and vocation of the Church in time and in eternity, Paul saw that it was all centered in the Cross of the Lord Jesus.
(continued with # 41)