February 15, 2016
From the desk of A.J. Higgins
Crucified in Weakness
“For though He was crucified through weakness,
yet He liveth by the power of God”
2 Corinthians 13:4
Paul’s statement must be approached conscious of both its depth and danger. How could the omnipotent One be marked by weakness? His deity was not diminished in either His incarnation or in His sufferings. Every attribute of deity resided in Him. But “weakness?” Our danger is in either minimizing this or in thinking in terms of the melodramatic sentimentality that has marked Hollywood productions of the life and death of Christ. This is not about Him falling under the weight of His cross on the way to Calvary or His near exhaustion when nailed to the tree. Something altogether different and more marvelous is in view.
In assuming human flesh, the Lord “subjected” Himself to experience what the human body would normally experience of weariness, hunger, thirst, and suffering. In some inexplicable and mysterious manner, divine omnipotence experienced, voluntary weakness in the human frame. None could, however, contest the depth of the statement. The omnipotent Christ mentioned in the same sentence as “weakness,” must move us to wonder and worship.
In what sense, then, was He “crucified in weakness?” May I suggest that it was apparent weakness – weakness in the eyes of men. He appeared helpless. He did not rise up and display power or assertiveness at His trial or execution. Men mocked and taunted and He moved no muscle to defend Himself. Herod and His soldiers treated Him as their “toy,” playing and taunting Him, yet He made no response. He appeared weak.
He was nailed to a cross and did not resist their cruel and harsh treatment. He remained on the cross despite their vicious words and mockery. Men taunted Him to perform a miracle to extricate Himself, yet He did not. There was no display of power or might at Calvary to the eyes of men. Yet it was the greatest display of power ever seen – the power to control His own omnipotence.
Would it be possible to say that His weakness was self-allowed? He chose to appear weak; He chose to “commit Himself to Him that judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). Those who milled around the cross went home that night with a self-righteous sense of vindication. They had been right all along! They had exposed the emptiness of His claims that He pleased God and that He had displayed the credentials of Messiah to the nation. He was, after all, weak and helpless in the face of their judgment.
In contrast to this apparent weakness, Paul adds that He is now alive through the power of God. The self-allowed weakness has been replaced by the display of the power of God over death and the grave. A day is yet future when, instead of perceived weakness, He will come in “power and great glory” (Matt 24:30).
1. Look at 2 Corinthians 13 and notice the mentions of power and weakness in connection with the apostle and the assembly there.
2. The literal reading is “He was crucified through (ek or out of) weakness.” What other interpretation could you give to this expression?