The Gospel of Jesus certainly wasn’t what the 1st Century Jews were expecting They had been living by the “what goes around comes around” philosophy of life, and were expecting the Messiah to give the Romans what was coming to them. Jesus blew that idea right out of the water.
The Gospel isn’t exactly what many 21st Century people expect, either. That all-loving grandpa in the sky who makes bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people doesn’t exist any more than a 1st Century political leader.
Warren Wiersbe, in his With The Word, (Thomas Nelson, 1991, page 660) points out that the true Gospel, in fact, is juxtaposed to the world’s philosophy of life. Just in these two chapters you’ll see several paradoxes that are at the core of our faith.
You’ll see victory out of surrender, when the world would tell you victory comes after hard work and personal effort. You’ll see greatness out of service, when the world would tell you you are great when people serve you.
You’ll see gain out of loss, when the world’s drive is for more possessions, more wealth, more, more, more. Jesus tells us we gain eternal life when we let go of all of that.
And ultimately, you’ll see glory out of suffering. Like Paul in Galatians 6, we can glory in the cross of Christ because, as awful as that death was, as humiliating and degrading, it was there Jesus paid the debt of our sin, the punishment we deserved. Jesus suffered and died for me. And for you. I love that old cross.
To many, the idea of letting go of material things, family members, our health, our reputations, our future, as well as our present, doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t sit well with some to humble ourselves, consider other people more important than ourselves in order to be of service to them. It doesn’t make sense to give up control of our situations and our future, and to trust Someone we can’t even see with it all.
That is, until you do. And you realize the flip side of that coin is amazing. It’s God Himself for today and eternity. Nothing can compare in this life. Nothing!
Paul, in I Corinthians 10 said he was crucified with Christ. He often said he died that day he met Jesus. But in I Corinthians 10:13 he tells us that because Christ lives in him, he is truly alive.
Life out of death might be the ultimate paradox in Christianity. But it’s real. I hope you have died, and know what it’s like to be gloriously alive.