Christ and Him Crucified

Why do I do the things I do
Why do I say the things I say
Sing the songs I sing
Pray the prayers I pray
Why do I push myself so hard
To go the second mile
Knowing my reward
May only be a smile
Well there’s a picture in my mind
That time can’t erase
And there’s a memory from days gone by
That helps me keep my place

It’s in the front of my mind
In the back of my mind
To the left and to the right
There’s an image of a man on a cross

Image of a Man | Dallas Holm

A number of years ago I was making my way to the back of an auditorium where I had just completed ministering in concert and in word.

About halfway back a young man stepped in front of me and asked, “After all these years, what keeps you going?” Without a moment’s hesitation I responded, “The image of a man on a cross!”

In that moment, my answer seemed to satisfy the young man’s question. It also caused me to consider that it might be a good idea for a song, which as it turned out, it was.

The apostle Paul, in writing his first letter to the church at Corinth, prioritizes the essence of his ministry and the central issue of true Christianity when he writes:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (I Cor. 2:1-2)

It has been suggested that by the time Paul (previously Saul) was 21 years of age, he had the equivalent of two Ph.D.s in theology. It is not likely that Paul is saying, nothing else is important to discuss or that the only topic henceforth will be the crucifixion of Christ.      

He is not promoting the idea that any further discussions regarding such significant events as the resurrection, the return of Christ or any vast array of other important topics like grace, obedience and conforming to the image of Christ need not be articulated and considered. What he is doing, for the purpose of highlighting and emphasizing the central issue of the atonement through the shedding of blood, is using hyperbole.

R.C. Sproul puts it this way:  “When the apostle made that statement (I Cor. 1:1-2) he obviously was engaged in the literary art of hyperbole. The Greek prefix hyper is the source of our word super, and it indicates a degree of emphasis. Hyper takes a root word and makes it emphatic. In this case, the root word comes from the Greek verb “to throw”. So, hyperbole is literally a “super throwing”; it is a form of emphasis that uses intentional exaggeration.

Sproul goes on to illustrate how we might say to a child, “I’ve told you a thousand times not to do that!” Everyone, including the child, knows that statement hasn’t been offered a thousand times, but the exaggeration is born, not out of deceitfulness, but out of an intent to bring emphasis.

We know Paul wanted to teach the Corinthians about the character and nature of God the Father. He would instruct them about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He would teach them Christian ethics, and about many other things that go beyond the immediate scope of Christ’s work on the cross.

Sproul puts it this way, “Paul was saying that in all of his teaching, in all of his preaching, in all of his missionary activity, the central point of importance was the cross. In effect, this teacher was saying to his students, “You might forget other things that I teach you, but don’t ever forget the cross because it was on the cross, through the cross and by the cross that our Savior performed His work of redemption and gathered His people for eternity.’”

Does the reality of the cross and what transpired through the substitutionary atoning work on Calvary’s mount, truly arrest our thinking and motivate our living?

Has the cross become just an emblem over the baptistry, an ornament around our neck, or do we remember, as Oswald Chambers states, “The most significant words ever uttered in a startled universe are the words, It Is Finished!”

Do we only consider the cross and Christ’s suffering in an historical context or do we actually consider ourselves “crucified with Christ”? Is it personal? Does it cost us?

Why should I care what others think
What do I care what others say
When He has won my heart
And I have found my way
What do I care what it may cost
Though it may cost my all
To walk the narrow path
And hear His silent call

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

I’m constrained by the love of Christ
I’m compelled to express His life

Cause in the front of my mind
In the back of my mind
To the left and to the right
There’s an image of a man on a cross

I remember one day years ago my dear friend, Leonard Ravenhill, said to me, “Dallas, there are lots of Christians who like to hang around the cross. Not many of them want to get on it!”

I think perhaps, better than any other way I can imagine, that statement demonstrates exactly Paul’s understanding and perspective of the cross, both for himself and for these who he would teach, which includes us.

May we not be as those who just hang around the cross, but may we reckon ourselves crucified with Christ.

In all our learning, our experience and in the great adventure of life’s journey, may we each stay forever focused on the central bedrock and eternal fact of “Christ and Him Crucified.”