Imagine your team is up by four touchdowns with minutes to go, but the referees, wanting to give the other team a chance, start blowing calls and throwing unwarranted flags on your guys. You’d probably be frustrated. Changing the rules wouldn’t seem fair.
Christ’s death and resurrection also changed the rules of the game in ways not everyone fully appreciated. God had given his chosen people, Israel, the Law and instructed them to follow it. Knowing they couldn’t perfectly follow the Law He also established a system of atoning blood sacrifices, but Jesus’ death and resurrection marked a radical change to this system.
Jesus spoke of this rules change while offering the wine of communion at the last supper, saying “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26: 28). Jesus foreshadowed how His death and the shedding of His blood would finally satisfy the old covenant and usher in a new one. Israel’s sacrifices could never fully atone for their sin since, as fallen people we can never make ourselves holy. But the sacrifice of a sinless person, Jesus, could redeem us and do just that (1 Peter 1:19-20). How’s that for a game changer?
In today’s passage Paul reminds us that what the world values really isn’t worth much after all. Instead, he calls Christians to find our greatest treasure in Christ and His resurrection. Only through faith in Christ can we be righteous and know “the power of his resurrection.” But really knowing Christ also drives us to “share his sufferings,” so we can become “like him in his death, that by any means possible I (we) may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10b-11).
These verses present an uneasy, almost contradictory tension to those who aren’t fully invested in Christ. They call us to joyfully share in Christ’s wounds by willingly suffering for the cross, even though no further sacrifice is required of us other than to have faith in Christ. Paul modeled this Christian life when he rejoiced no matter what dangers surrounded him and throughout his captivity because he knew God was at work in it all. It is an uncommon life, but the only life that leads to true happiness and our eternal home.
Prayer: Lord, help me take these words, from 1 Peter 2:24, to heart so that I might live an uncommon life: “‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.’” Amen.