What exactly is the gospel – the good news of the kingdom? As one preacher said, “if the gospel is everything, then it is nothing at all.” In other words, the true gospel must and should emphasize things of first importance. If we try to pack everything from the Bible into the gospel of Christ, we will lose the significance of things that trump all other truths.
Fortunately, we have such a concise account of what the gospel of Christ highlights as “first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3-9). This devo aims to talk briefly about one of those aspects, namely the death of Jesus on a wretched cross.
1 Corinthians 15:3 says, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.”
However, to some degree, maybe it is beneficial to investigate the cause of this death – somewhat like an autopsy. Now, I’m not suggesting that we don’t know the cause of Jesus’s death. Rather, it benefits us greatly to understand how the actions of Jesus contributed to his death sentence. If Scripture is true that he died for our sins, we are left to decide how we will react to a righteous and sinless man becoming the offering of sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21).
In Daniel 7, we see the picture of a Son of Man figure who exhibits divine-like characteristics and equality to the one sitting on heaven's throne. Fast forward hundreds of years after this vision to the initial stages of the trial of Jesus at the Sanhedrin council (Matt. 26:57-68). When faced with a point-blank question about his identity, Jesus emphatically asserts that he is the Son of Man and equates himself to God (v. 64). Such a claim seemed incomprehensible by the council and all but sealed the fate of Jesus’s eventual crucifixion.
The horror that ensued from the claims by Jesus led to the dismantling of his flesh, and this tragic outcome highlighted the irony that the man mocked as a king was, in fact, the King of kings.
Willingly, Christ permitted that contradiction to play itself out (until his resurrection). His unwillingness to deny his true identity led to his death. Willingly, he laid down his life (John 15:13). Thus, how could we unwillingly not count the cost, carry our cross, and be co-crucified with him (Luke 14:26-33; Gal. 2:20)? Jesus knew the impact that his claim would have. How can we then so haphazardly respond to the first part of the gospel message?