There was a somewhat distant day when I set sail into a profitable journey to uncover “what is this gospel of Jesus Christ” we allege our attachment to? In that day, along with many other words, I penned these thoughts.
Paul’s introductory words of his second letter to the Corinthians reveal something of the nature of his ministry. He describes this ministry in terms such as, “affliction, suffering, and sentence of death, deadly peril, distractions, painful trials, anguish, tears, punishment, sorrow, and discouragement.” It is difficult then to apprehend Paul’s summation of this gospel ministry, when he writes,
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.” 2 Corinthians 2: 14
Fast forward to the present and I must still confess that when I read these words they bring a pricking awe to my solace. There is obviously something Paul knows that transcends our grasp of this word “gospel,” else how do we explain the so often lusterless presentation of its wonder in our modern world? Paul, through the direst of trials, sees himself caught up in a celebratory parade of champions, but we most often just live out life in its norm of travail as though this “gospel” is merely an attachment with some hopeful future value.
Is it possible, as one author considers, that this is the result of our resistance to any longer read the Bible as it was meant to be read; a progressive story-line that is complete and yet goes on and on.
Can it be that this triumphant parade that Paul gives shout to is ever-presently taking place, and is doing so because of the good news that finally, the true King of kings has taken possession of His Kingdom?
All of Scripture points to a Kingdom of righteousness ruled by a just King and the climax of God’s story is Jesus’ taking of His Kingdom. He binds the strong man… crushes his head, plunders his house, and takes His rightful place as heir of His Throne.
It is though the manner in which the King establishes His Kingdom that confounds the assemblies, for as even the very countrymen of the King misunderstood the strategy, so too is it a prevalent quagmire for us today. It seems for to get what Paul got we will have to hear what Pilate heard, “My Kingdom is not of this world.”
We can celebrate the King because He gives us His Kingdom. And of the sufferings in this present age? Well, they pale… in the view of the glory being revealed to us in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:18).
I close with a quick confirming thought. As stone followed by stone thrashed upon the battered vessel and waning life of the first kingdom martyr, he gazed skyward into the very throne room of God and graced eternity with his words, “I see Jesus.”
Do you see your King?