“That I May Know Him” (Philippians 3:10-11)
To know Christ was the great ambition of the apostle Paul, and it should be the great ambition of each one of us as well. Clearly, Paul already knew Christ (2 Tim 1:10). In fact, it is Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who is responsible for so much of the wonderful teaching about Christ in the New Testament. However, though he knew Christ, he saw that there was still so much more of Him to know, and the realization that he had hardly even begun to search out the greatness of Jesus Christ propelled him into an all-consuming pursuit in life: to know Him more.
– When Jesus is of greatest value to us, knowing Him will be our greatest ambition. What are some other things that you are tempted to value more than Jesus? What types of things occupy your mind and attention more than Him? Why is Jesus of infinitely greater worth than any of those things?
I. Knowing Christ is Experiencing His Power
For Paul, the true knowledge of Christ means a genuine experience of the power of His resurrection. The resurrection is the most powerful display of power the world has ever seen. By it, Jesus was declared to be the Son of God, proved that death had been defeated, demonstrated that sin had lost its dominion, and evidenced that the wrath of God had been fully satisfied for all who believe in Him. Knowing Christ means not just knowing about Christ’s powerful resurrection, but actually experiencing the power of it in the present. Though we were dead in our transgressions and slaves of sin, by His power He raised us to spiritual life and delivered us from the dominion and power of sin. So powerful is His resurrection from the dead on our behalf that Paul tells us that if we have been made partakers of it, we ought to consider ourselves “to be dead to sin, but alive to God” (Rom 6:11).
– In what ways have you experienced the power of Christ’s resurrection? In what ways do you currently need a greater experience of Christ’s power? Spend time meditating on the sufficiency of His power and asking for greater manifestations of it in your life.
II. Know Christ is Sharing in His Sufferings
When Paul speaks of the sufferings of Christ, he has in mind Christ’s unwavering determination to be obedient to the Father, no matter the cost to Himself (Phil 2:5-8). Repeatedly in the Scriptures, we see that Christ was determined to continually submit His own will to that of His Father’s, knowing that it would mean suffering (Luke 22:42; Isaiah 50:6-7). For us to share in Christ’s sufferings means that we join with Him in that same unwavering determination to obey, even when it means suffering. While our determination to obey Christ might mean very severe suffering, it often takes place in the very normal activities of our day as we choose to deny our own interests in order to serve the interests of Christ (Phil 2:3-5). The daily sacrifice of our own wills and preferences for the needs of those around us give us the opportunity to fellowship with Christ in His self-denial for the glory of God.
What opportunities do you have this week to fellowship in Christ’s sufferings? In what ways are you tempted to choose selfishness over sacrifice for others?
III. Knowing Christ is Anticipating the Resurrection
Paul knew Christ in this life, but he anticipated the day when He would know Christ more fully at the time of the resurrection. He understood that the road to glory was humility—that the cross always comes before the crown—and so he was willing to be conformed to the death of Christ in this life, in order to be raised with him in life at the resurrection. Jesus first humbled Himself to the lowest possible place, dying the shameful death of the cross, and was then exalted to the highest place of power and authority. In the same way, the resurrection of every Christian is only followed by be a life of continued conformity to the death of Christ in this life, daily dying to selfishness and personal preferences in service to Him. The certainty of the resurrection gives us great hope to endure suffering, knowing that a life of difficulty will soon be followed by a resurrection of glory where we will know Christ face to face.
– How often do you think about the resurrection? How can you find encouragement in the certainty of the resurrection in your current circumstances?