Can you overemphasize Jesus’ death on the cross?
That’s hard to imagine, but one way comes to mind.
I love preaching the cross. It’s central to everything I believe about Jesus, God, and the way of salvation. I consider myself a “theologian of the cross.” But there's a danger there. How so?
You can put all your focus on the saving importance of Jesus’ death and miss the saving importance of His life. You can put all your attention on the death of Christ and forget to emphasize the resurrection of Christ.
I know what you’re thinking: “No Christian forgets to emphasize the resurrection. We remember it every Sunday!”
Yes, we do remember it. We remember that Jesus rose from the grave on the first day of the week (i.e., Sunday). But do you emphasize what the resurrection has to do with your Christian growth? You know how the death of Christ redeemed you. But do you understand how the risen Christ saves you now? Here’s what Paul said:
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4).
Christ’s resurrection impacts your life—it saves you—in the here and now.
The living Christ indwells and empowers you to walk in newness of life. In other words, the indwelling life of the risen Christ is just as essential to living as God designed you to live as is the death of Christ. As Stuart Briscoe reminisced about his early preaching ministry:
We didn’t reflect on the dying of Jesus without it leading naturally to a powerful, thoroughly biblical emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus. And the emphasis went further and taught us that the risen Christ really was alive and had taken up residence in the hearts of the redeemed in order to carry on his ancient work in us and through us. So with great expectation that God would keep his promise to honour the proclamation of his Word and with the knowledge that Christ himself dwelt within us in the power of the resurrection through the Holy Spirit to take the Word home with power, who would not anticipate blessings to flow? (Briscoe, Flowing Streams, p. 38).
Do you believe that Jesus really is alive in you? Do you emphasize how the risen Christ is living through believers to keep on accomplishing His work? Do you understand all that means for the Christian life?
I love preaching the death of Christ. But I wonder if my preaching has been lopsided. I have to learn to preach the whole truth about the risen Christ so that I can believe the whole truth about the risen Christ. How about you?
Prayer for the day: Heavenly Father, help me to see and believe that Christ is alive in me. Show me how Jesus can carry on His work through me, empowering me to walk in newness of life. Amen.