Strength through Weakness
Updated: Apr 24, 2020
From Weakness to Power, Pt 2 April 8, 2020
Within the span of a few weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, a very different picture of Jesus’ followers (disciples) emerges. Where they were once very weak, they now exhibit a strength far greater than their own. Their transformation resulted from the risen Christ meeting with His followers and pouring upon them His Spirit of power. Like Jesus’ followers, we can find great strength to cope with the pandemic or whatever battles we may face through the resurrected Christ.
Between the time He rose from the dead and before He ascended to heaven, Jesus told His followers: “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. . . But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:8 ESV). On the Day of Pentecost (an Old Testament harvest festival occurring 50 days after Passover), the Lord poured out the Holy Spirit upon the believers thereby beginning the process of transforming them by His power and grace.
2 WEAKNESSES, 2 STRENGTHS, 2 IMAGES
Admitting our weakness is usually off-putting but in a time of crisis weakness is more apparent as forces greater than us and beyond our control exert great pressure on our lives. In Christianity however, acknowledging one’s weakness can lead to finding life and empowerment through Christ. When we say that Jesus is our strength in weakness, we refer to two ways in which we are weak and two ways Jesus strengthens us. Two images help us to understand our weakness and how Jesus strengthens us.
PHYSICIAN OF THE HOPELESS
To picture the way Jesus strengthens a person, imagine someone on a hospital gurney in a trauma unit. The monitors indicate he’s flat-lined – he has no pulse or respiration. Like this deceased person, we all are spiritually dead. We have no means to make ourselves alive and no resources for a miracle cure; we’re without hope. To make matters worse, our death is the just penalty that we have earned: the wages of sin is death. Now picture Jesus as the sole-attending, perfectly pure physician whose unconventional method of healing is to take our just condemnation and death upon Himself and give us His life and righteousness. By His power, we are made alive! Our weakness in this sense is death and an inability to make ourselves alive. Christ strengthens us by taking our sin and death and giving us new life. To our undeserving, lifeless, incapable souls, Christ makes us alive and declares us to be righteous. This is Christ’s grace - the free, undeserving pardon to a lifeless and incapable sinner and this gift is received by faith alone: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9, ESV) We can be strong because Christ became weak for us:
The infinite God became weak by taking to Himself our finite nature through His birth in order to become the only mediator between God and us.
The God of glory became weak by setting aside His external, heavenly glory to dwell among us and make His Father known to us.
The righteous Law-Giver became weak by submitting Himself to that law and perfectly obeying it for us who are hostile to His law.
The God of Justice became weak by suffering in His flesh on the cross the death we deserved for our rebellion against Him though He Himself was without sin.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9, ESV)
WE CAN BE STRONG BECAUSE CHRIST BECAME WEAK FOR US
Almighty Jesus Christ became weak so that we who are weak can become strong. In order for us to become strong, we must first admit our utter weakness and desperation: we have no righteousness to make ourselves acceptable to God; we deserve God’s eternal punishment for our sin. To become strong, we must surrender ourselves to God’s mercy and believe Christ perfectly obeyed God’s law in our behalf to make us righteous before God and paid our penalty by bearing God’s wrath for our sin on the cross. Anyone who believes these truths passes from death to life, from weakness to strength!
PERSONAL TRAINER OF THE POWERLESS
The second image to help us understand Christ’s strength in our weakness is to picture ourselves in a rehabilitation center or fitness center following our resuscitation. As newly alive beings, we must learn a new way to live for Him who is our resurrection and life. We must unlearn old unhealthy habits and learn new ways of living. Jesus strengthens us as our spiritual trainer and life coach through a loving relationship with us. In order that we may know more of His power and love, He puts us on a new diet for proper nutrition, teaches us new ways of thinking so that we can break old harmful patterns and to live in a way that nurtures our new life, trains us to achieve our life’s purpose and to show others how to enjoy this life. Unlike other types of trainers, Jesus seeks a relationship with us that not only informs and motivates but actually enlivens and empowers us for this new life. Even though we are alive in Christ, we often are weak and struggle to follow Him. As our trainer, Christ helps us to build up our faith and empowers us to follow Him. In this aspect of Christ’s grace, He enables us to live the new life. The Lord assured Paul when he was weak that His enabling grace was sufficient to empower His weary servant “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I [Paul] will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10, ESV)
Here are a few ways the risen and reigning Lord Jesus Christ empowers all who wait on Him:
When we’ve had all we can handle from the pandemic, the Holy Spirit empowers God’s children to stand firm in the face of opposition and endure hardship with a patient joy: (Colossians 1:11).
When we are troubled, downcast, or tempted to lose hope because of what the virus has taken from us, the Spirit empowers Jesus’ followers to abound in hope, joy, and peace (Romans 15:13).
When God’s people feel alone, abandoned, afraid, or trapped, God’s Spirit strengthens us in our inner being to know that He is for us and loves us deeply (Ephesians 3:16–21).
When the stresses of the pandemic expose our character flaws and sin, the Spirit empowers God’s children, as He did for the disciples who had denied Jesus, to set aside their old sinful ways and to become more like Jesus Christ in knowledge, attitude, and behavior (2 Peter 1:3–7).
When the ruin caused by this plague causes us to cry out to God, those made righteous in Christ through faith are assured God hears their prayer and makes their prayer effective (James 5:16).
When the pandemic causes us to face our own mortality and reminds us that one day we will stand before God to give an account, followers of Jesus can be assured that death results in victory for by God’s power we shall be raised like Christ (1 Corinthians 6:14).
Whatever need this crisis creates, God empowers His people to meet it according to the glorious riches of His grace. This does not mean that God removes every hardship from us or that we are always strong. After Jesus poured out God’s Spirit on His followers, they changed greatly but they remained weak in themselves and were often burdened beyond their strength. They still battled sin and possessed limitations. However, those weaknesses and the remaining power of sin against which they struggled drove them to find their strength in Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). We should not attempt to conceal our weaknesses but rather, we should use those weaknesses to drive us humbly to Christ where we will receive His power and strength.
You may wish to listen to the song, The Power of the Cross, by clicking here. Let this song remind you of Christ’s power for you and worship the Lord for His grace.
COMMENT BELOW on how Christ has been your strength during this crisis
To read the other blog posts in this series click on the links below: