I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (verses 10-11) -
“I want to know Christ.”
What a simple, powerful statement of yearning and commitment. It’s not just about intellectual knowledge. Paul would certainly run circles around most of us in that department. But he’s got his sights on something more. His interest is relationship. He never had the opportunity to walk the dusty roads of Galilee alongside the disciples, side by side with Jesus. He didn’t have the chance to watch Jesus’ every move, to constantly hear his insights firsthand, to receive his directives along the way, as the disciples did.
We haven’t had those opportunities either.
But Paul wants to know Jesus, just as personally, just as intimately, just as directly. And of course, it was possible for him then, and us now, because of the remarkable new reality of the Spirit’s presence with us, indeed resident within us, Jesus’ very life filling us. Just as Jesus himself said: “The Spirit of truth … lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:17-18). Yes.
We can know Jesus – fully, directly, personally, intimately. Indeed, elsewhere, Paul says, “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Therefore, “to know Christ” is not just a noble yearning. Rather, it’s what we were meant for. It’s what Jesus himself wants for us.
But, if it’s to be, we will find ourselves plunged right into the lived-reality of Christ’s own death and resurrection. That’s what Paul says here, emphasizing it in an a-b-b-a, repetitive pattern: “to know … (a) the power of his resurrection … (b) his sufferings … (b) his death … (a) the resurrection from the dead.”
Somehow, “the power of his resurrection” sounds most inviting. Paul talked about it in Ephesians 1, emphasizing it as part of our birthright, being caught up in the “incomparably great power” (Ephesians 1:19) of God that raised Jesus right out of death into life – life unending – exalting him up, up, up to the very right hand of the Father, above all other dominion and authority. That’s power indeed! I want to know his power in my life, more and more. It’s a good yearning, God-ordained.
But we’re meant to know Christ also in the intimacy of suffering. We shouldn’t be surprised when difficulties, hardships and trials of many kinds come upon us – the scriptures tell us they will. These, too, are avenues for knowing Jesus more, entering into fellowship with him as we share his experience. It redeems those painful circumstances that come upon us unawares. But further, we’re also to voluntarily enter into the activity of living a cross-shaped life, “becoming like him in his death”, taking up our cross daily to follow him. We know him as we enter into this sacrificial stance, following his lead. It may be seemingly inconsequential, laying aside the rights of a moment in order to serve a brother or sister, washing their feet. Or it may come at more decisive cross-roads, redirecting life by the sacrifice of comfort and dreams, like Paul himself heading to Jerusalem in obedience to Christ, knowing that trial awaited him.
Knowing Christ involves this rich mix of both. Life and death. Power and sacrifice. Glory and suffering. Resurrection and cross. Cross and resurrection.
I want to know Christ. Yes, Lord – may it be. -
Lord Jesus, praise you for your death and resurrection. You have won salvation for me. Praise your name. But you invite me, also, to enter into your experience again and again, that I might know you more. To know the power of life unleashed in your resurrection. To share with you, right alongside, in suffering. To be shaped by your cross. To stretch into the full hope of resurrection from the dead. I want to know you, Jesus my Lord. Draw me into the fullness of resurrection and cross, cross and resurrection. For your name’s sake. -
Pray: Throughout the day, pray the final paragraph of the prayer above. Know Jesus. -
Photos by Jon Tyson on Unsplash, and Pisit Heng on Unsplash