Crucified With Christ
According to Matthew 5:3, to become rich we must first become "poor in spirit." When we are weak, we are made strong through the sufficient grace of God (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Scripture is full of paradoxes like this, but perhaps none are any more remarkable than the words of Paul in Galatians 2:20. According to his own testimony, Paul was "crucified with Christ", and yet found life as he lived each day "by the faith of the Son of God." John Bengel considered this verse to be "the summit and marrow of Christianity." Not only does it contain doctrine and "instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16) for the individual believer, but it beautifully articulates the saving work of Christ, "who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Consider Martin Luther's commentary on this glorious truth:
“Read the words ‘me’ and ‘for me’ with great emphasis. . .Print this ‘me’ with capital letters in your heart, and do not ever doubt that you belong to the number of those who are meant by this ‘me.'"
In my own reading, I've tended to simply view this passage as a lofty challenge to "crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:24), without realizing that it was Paul's awareness of God's love that motivated him to make this sacrifice. He wasn't trying to be super spiritual; he was overwhelmed with gratitude, and responded naturally by surrendering His life wholly to the One who died for us "while we were yet sinners" (Rom. 5:8). If this verse is indeed the summit of Christianity, then that summit is Calvary. No other doctrine or statement of theology is more profound than the cross. No philosophy of man is more life changing, and no love is greater than that which moved a sinless Savior "to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). The purest form of obedience is never borne out of a sense of obligation, but out of a genuine love for Him who willingly "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8).