Thursday, March 24, 2016

Abiding alone

The Lord Jesus made an amazing statement in John 20:24 "Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abides alone; but if it die, it bears much fruit."

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this verse. It's certainly true that the Son of God gave a great deal in His life down here: He healed people, fed people, and taught people. But everything He gave that's eternal depended on Him dying. The people He fed got hungry again, the people He healed eventually died, these were temporal blessings. The eternal blessings all come from His death, and are only really ours in resurrection.

We get into a lot of trouble trying to escape death while still having eternal life. It doesn't work that way: we can have life in Christ or life in Adam, but not both. Either death comes between us and Christ, or it comes between us and Adam. Death has come between them, and we can't have both.

Of course scripture doesn't teach we have to die, but that we have died. Our problem is not so much that we need to die as it is that we just don't quite accept that it's already been done.

It's important to understand that not everything in Adam's world is evil, but it's all under judgment. This has taken me a long time to see, and I think it's an important distinction. We're not Gnostics... Creation is a testimony to God's eternal power and glory (Romans 1:19–20). God has created man (Adam) in His own image and given him dominion over this creation (see Psalm 8). There is a dignity and a worth in man because he is created in God's image. But that doesn't change the fact that this world – the world of Adam's children – is under judgment because it has murdered the Son of God. And it doesn't change the fact that all – all – have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

(As an aside, I find it annoying when people say the world is getting worse. The world is not getting worse: the worst thing people have ever done – or ever will do – is murdering the Son of God. The world might be more flagrant in its sin, it might flaunt sin openly in ways that shock us; but the murder of the Son of God is the moral low point of human history.)

In the end, death will come between us and Adam, or it will come between us and Christ. He has died, death has come between Christ and Adam. Adam's race has murdered the Son of God, it's their own fault that death separates them. God invites us to take our place with Christ as those who have died with Him, and recognize that in His eyes, death comes between us and Adam's world.

Again, not everything in Adam's world is bad, but it's all under judgment, and it's all separated from us by death – the death of Christ (Galatians 6:14). We like to tell Sunday School children that the Cross of Christ has bridged the gap between God and men; Scripture teaches that it has created a much more permanent gap between me and the world.

If I am to take what God has offered me in Christ, I must take it on the ground of resurrection. And resurrection ground is on the basis that I, too, have died. Christ has died, so have I (Galatians 2:20). It's only as I accept this that I can enjoy what God has given in Christ.

1 comment:

Caleb said...

People say the world is getting worse because as humans we find it extremely hard to see outside of our own experience. It may be true in my lifetime that things have gotten worse. We easily forget 10 years ago let alone 2000 years ago.