Prepare to listen. Remember today: The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced. (Psalm 126:3)
Read Philippians 3:4b-11
If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
What do you want to know so badly you’re willing to give up whatever advantages and profit you think you have? Willing to count all those gains as ‘dung’ (as in the King James)? Some can readily identify with Paul when he claims, ‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection,’ but we wish he’d stopped there. Yes, if knowing Christ in his resurrection power is what it’s about, we’re all in, willingly. But Paul didn’t stop there. He wants to know, not only the power of Jesus’ resurrection, he also wants to share his sufferings by becoming like him in his death. Suffering and death are two words we avoid in our culture. Yet many saints in the history of the church understood Paul’s desire. They too wanted, even prayed to experience suffering in order to know Christ more truly. The 14th century mystic, Julian of Norwich, prayed to understand the suffering and death of Jesus by experiencing severe illness (suffering) herself. I’m not advocating that kind of prayer and I don’t think Paul was either. But, knowing Christ’s sufferings through our own experiences of suffering may just help us be more serious about loving Jesus more dearly and following him more nearly (to borrow from St. Richard of Chichester).
What do you want to know so badly you’re willing to give up whatever advantages and profit you think you have?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Lord Jesus, may I long to know you and the power of your resurrection and the sharing of your suffering so that I become like you in your death. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world desiring to know only Jesus.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.