What does it mean, Christians, for us, to be “crucified?” Paul says he’s been crucified with Christ in Galatians 2:20, and he’s saying it past-tense. It’s already happened! Do we have two resurrected folks after crucifixion walking around? We realize obviously we don’t. Rather we compare the sort of crucifixion that Jesus has with the crucifixion that Paul says he has experienced, and it takes us back to witness what was happening in the garden. It was there that Jesus crucified His will.
Luke 22 (ESV) records the story for us:
41 [When Jesus] withdrew from [the disciples] about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
This is probably one of the most dynamic passages in all of Scripture showing us both Jesus’ humanity and divinity so intertwined. Note that first of all, Jesus is kneeling to pray to God for God to remove this present course of action from Him.
This doesn’t mean that Jesus hasn’t intended all long to do what He knows He has to do. In the Gospels, He tells the Disciples three times of what He’s praying about here. The last time in Luke was four chapters prior in Luke 18:31-33:
31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”
However, in Jesus’ prayer, we even see both the why of Jesus’ crucifixion and within that why, the resistance of the humanity of Jesus. It’s in the word, “cup,” as in “remove this cup from me.” The cup that Jesus is talking about is God’s wrath. Over and over in the Old Testament the cup is referred to God’s wrath.
Hebrews 2:17 says it well, “Therefore he - that is Jesus - had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
In this word, propitiation, we have the wrath of God being righteously and justly poured out. We have the penalty recipient - in this case, Jesus - receiving the the wrath of God for the entire sins of the world. We have the appeasement of God’s wrath solely on Jesus, and thus we - every believer - we have peace in God.
In verse 42 back in Luke 22, Jesus prays, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
This is the crucifixion of Jesus’s will. This is, in essence, the crucifixion that Paul I believe is talking about. “Not my will but your will be done,” says Jesus to the Father who is saying, “Go, be crucified for the sins of mankind. Submit yourself to the painful death of crucifixion.”
And Jesus does it!
When Paul is saying that He has been crucified with Christ, He is saying that His will is aligning to the will of God even to the point of death. His desires are the desires of God. Every thought is brought into captivity and subjection to the will of God and obedience to Christ.
Have you truly been crucified with Christ? Is every thought brought into captivity and subjection to His will? Do you obey no matter the cost? The only way you can do that, is if you too, are crucified with Christ.
Kevin Davis is pastor of a small rural church in another Gospel-parched part of the continent, the Pacific Northwest. He is humbly blessed by his wife Christy, his son Calvin, and their two dogs Rocket and Tess, and his gracious congregation.