We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:10
I always thought this sounded kind of gruesome: carrying around the death of Jesus. After being flogged, Jesus would have been a bloody mess. But we’re not hauling a dead body around. Paul says we carry around the death of Jesus “in our body.” It’s something inside — something that is a part of us — something that we are. What could that be if it isn’t our sin, our failure, our rebellion against God? It was our sin that caused Jesus’ death. It was our sin that distorted humanity and brought death into the world. It is our sin over which the whole creation groans today. And even though we are forgiven, saved, and washed clean, as long as these bodies of ours are on this earth, we still carry around the death of Jesus in them, because that’s what these bodies are: they are the death of Jesus.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Who would have thought these verses would have given me so much trouble? Well actually, I wouldn’t have had any trouble had I not been so hard pressed on every side for not coming up with a Catch over these seemingly simple verses, perplexed by not understanding why, persecuted by myself over my inability to get over this barrier, and struck down by a sense of utter failure.
We are sore pressed at every point, but not hemmed in; we are at our wit’s end, but never at our hope’s end; we are persecuted by men, but never abandoned by God; we are knocked down, but not knocked out. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 paraphrased by William Barclay)
Well, by now last week’s series should be behind us, but I’ve only covered half of it. This was going to be so easy. I was going to write a week’s worth of Catches on autopilot, since I’ve taught this passage so many times. God (and Marti) had something else in mind. The minute you think something’s going to be easy is probably when you should think again.
When you notice that the Catch has been coming out late, or sometimes (as in last Monday) not at all, you can usually assume one thing: I’m going through the wringer. I’m trying to get at something that I’m not getting. I’m going through two, sometimes three versions of a Catch, and then at the end of the day I still have to conclude — nope; that’s not it. I’m fighting with God; I’m fighting with myself; and I’m fighting with Marti, who understands me so well, she knows when to blow the whistle on me. So that’s why this little paragraph is all you’re going to get from me today, but there is hope for tomorrow.
I once wrote a book, Making Real What I Already Believe. Well that’s what I think is happening here. I’m having to reinterpret something I thought I knew. This was supposed to be an easy week. I was going to teach a passage I have taught more than any other in the Bible. Who would have thought I would get stuck in 2 Corinthians 4, but here I am.
So hang in there with me. Tomorrow is looking better.
Perplexed, but not in despair … 2 Corinthians 4:8
This is not about victorious living — this is about ordinary life lived out through the surpassing power of God. It’s not about you (or me). It’s about the all-surpassing power of God through us.
One of my favorite passages of scripture is 2 Corinthians 4:8-12. It immediately follows the famous “jars of clay” verse, and confirms why God would want to put a valuable treasure in an ordinary clay pot. But more on that later. First, I need to tell you why we’re here again looking at this passage. If you’ve been with the Catch for a while, you may know that this is not the first time we’ve had our Bibles open to 2 Corinthians, and I guarantee not the last. That’s because this passage is central to all we do here at the Catch; it’s what we call the New Covenant.
God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Ephesians 3:10-11
Yesterday we found out God’s ultimate plan is to bring everything together under the authority of Jesus Christ. Today we find out that another part of His plan is to show off the rich variety of His wisdom as expressed in the church, to “unseen rulers and authorities in heavenly places.” Now who are those guys? Do we even know? No we don’t, but right now that’s none of our business. That’s God’s business, and we only need to know that it’s going on and pay attention to our walk with the Lord, because we are not alone. Someone outside of our earthly realm is looking on. And what God is doing through you and me is being noted. I bet you didn’t know you were that important.