In today’s antiseptic, anesthetized society, the thought of continually handling and dwelling on the death of Jesus would no doubt be considered unusual – unhealthy even. Some would surely ask, “How can bearing His dying in my body bring life to me? Wouldn’t that rob me of energy? Wouldn’t it cause me to always look back and never forward? Wouldn’t that cause me to become so consumed with heaven that I am of no use here on earth?” The simple answer is, “No,” for this is no ordinary death that Paul is describing. When Jesus died it wasn’t the passing of earth to Heaven, but rather the coming of Heaven to earth.
As we approach Palm Sunday and the week of His passion, we need to remember that every step Jesus took while He was here on the earth was a step downward. He came down and took upon Himself the form of a servant. He came down and took upon Himself man’s fleeting fashion. He came down and took upon Himself the form of the most humble and lowly of men. He came down and lived with us. He came down and shared our griefs, hurts and pains. Then He completed His descent by dying for us on the cross. It was the final and fulfilling step of Christ’s identification with man while at the same time being His ultimate act as redeeming God.
Don’t think that carrying the crucified Christ in your body will cause you to lose touch with this world. On the contrary, it will cause you to be more in touch with this world – a world that Jesus died for – than ever before. It will cause you to descend from the heights of human thought to the streets of sacrificial service. It means that you will empty yourself in the cause of the commonplace. It means that you will, in fact, begin to walk amidst human reality. It requires you to leave the ivory towers of philosophic speculation and begin to trod the prickly paths of human practice. It means that you will have to forgo your sunny days for the sake of your weaker brother’s candlelight.
Are you prepared to make this sacrifice? Then you will have to love this world more, not less. Remember that, in His descent, Jesus came to Galilee, but it was only through His death that He was able to touch the ends of the Earth. So, if you would carry in your body His death then it will require you to have an even greater love of life. You see, it was only a divine love of life that would cause Jesus to go to the cross – or compel you to follow.
You cannot reach Paul’s pinnacle by dreaming. It can only be reached by casting away your dreams. Your eyes must be focused, as His, on a desperate world. Your ears must be filled with their cries. Your hands must be gripped by their pain.
If you desire to depart and be with Christ then you must follow Him down, nearer to the cries and hurts of man. You must quit daydreaming of the world that is to come and go minister to the world that is. For when His death transforms our life, then will our life reflect His death.