photo by Laura Evans
Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified…. God give[s] you his Spirit by your believing what you heard.
Galatians 3:1, 5 NIV
Dear ICB family,
Here Paul says that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ had been depicted or shown to the Galatians "before [their] very eyes," yet they lived over a thousand kilometers away from Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified. So how could Paul make such a statement? He didn't show the Galatians video clips or pictures of the crucified Christ. I doubt he used any visual aids whatsoever when he visited them. So in what way had they seen Jesus Christ as crucified?
They had seen a clear portrayal of Jesus Christ as crucified not with physical eyes but, interestingly enough, with their ears. That is, on Paul's lips they heard the Spirit-empowered proclamation of the news of Jesus' death, and that proclamation was enough for Paul to say that Jesus had been put on display to them as crucified.
Of course, Jesus could have been born, lived, and died during a time in history in which such events could have been video recorded and preserved for all of us to see with our own eyes. However, for his own inscrutable purposes, God decided that the way that we would see with our very eyes Jesus as crucified would be through our ears. We would need to be told it.
And we would need to be told not merely what happened but also why it happened, which is exactly what Pastor Neil said: "Our eyes see what happened, but our ears hear the interpretation and give what we have seen meaning. With our eyes we can consider the heavens which declare the glory of God, but with our ears we can listen to the word of God that tells us who made those heavens" (my paraphrase from his sermon on June 27). And we could add in this case, "Our eyes could have seen the physical body of Jesus on the cross, dying in shame and agony, but with our ears we hear the words of Peter explain what this terrible, glorious spectacle was all about: 'Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God' (1 Peter 3:18)."
So take heart. By your simple words people will see Jesus as crucified. So open your mouth with great boldness and expectation, and beg God that people would hear and believe and receive God's gracious Spirit.
Longing for the loud and clear proclamation of our only hope,