THE WORD: A Living Christ

PHOTO: “Supper at Emmaus” by Caravaggio (circa 1602) is a painting in the collection of The National Gallery, London. (Public Domain) 

It has been suggested that one of the faults of much evangelical preaching is the too exclusive presentation of a suffering, dying, dead, and buried Christ — rather than of a risen, living, ever-sympathizing, ever-helping Christ. This fault results from the desire to hold forth “Christ crucified” as the one and only ground of salvation. But the consequence too often is, that the only conception of the Savior produced in the minds of the people, is that of One who suffered and died. They are led to trust for salvation to the one past act of redemption — rather than to the power of an ever-present Savior. Their eyes are turned back to the cross — rather than up to the throne. 

A little reflection will satisfy anyone that the conception of a living Christ is not a vivid and powerful one in the minds of the mass of Christians. They think of Jesus very much as of a dear friend they have lost, or as one who lived centuries ago a noble life of self-sacrifice — but who lives no longer.  

Now the Scriptures are at great pains to present Christ as a living Savior. The infinite importance of his death is everywhere recognized; but mark how all the New Testament writers labor to remove every shadow of doubt from the fact that he rose again, and how his resurrection is held forth as the most important fact in his history, the very foundation of all gospel truth and of all Christian hope. 

A vivid realization of Christ as living — is essential to noble Christian life. How easy it is to go to the throne of grace when we feel that on that throne sits that same Jesus whose tender and beautiful life is delineated on the gospel pages.  

He is there as our advocate to manage all our affairs for us; he is there to prepare a place for us, and to receive us when we go home. It is a comforting thought when things seem to go wrong with you — that it is the Jesus of Bethany and Calvary who presides over the affairs of providence.  

Then there is still a further blessing which springs out of the faith that realizes a living Christ. It is the consciousness of that Savior’s presence with each believer all the time. There is no promise of the Scriptures repeated over and over again so often as this: “I will be with you — I am with you always.” Jesus has not left the earth. He never will leave it for a moment until his last redeemed one has reached the heavenly Father’s home.  

The tempted, fainting believer can find, not promises of strength merely — but the same living, mighty hand that Peter found when he began to sink in the waves. The lost sinner, crying out, finds not merely the assurance of pardon and life — but he finds himself lifted up by the Good Shepherd and borne gently along to the fold.

J.R. Miller was a pastor and former editorial superintendent of the Presbyterian Board of Publication from 1880 to 1911. His works are now in the public domain. This passage is a condensed version of the original.