Crucified With Christ
Richard Wurmbrand, the author of this article, was imprisoned for a total of 14 years for doing Christian work in communist Romania. He later founded "The Voice of the Martyrs," a ministry which supports persecuted believers.
Suppose you were living 2,000 years ago in Palestine, that you were sinful, heavy with guilt, and Jesus told you, "Your sin is grave and deserves punishment. But tomorrow I will be flogged and crowned with a crown of thorns. They will drive nails into My hands and My feet and fix Me to a cross. And when I have died, you shall know that your sins are forgiven forever, that I was your substitute, your scapegoat. Will you accept My suffering for your offense, or do you prefer to bear the punishment yourself?"
Would you accept? In my prison cell Jesus put before me the problem I have just put to you. Then came the real question, the thing He had in mind from the beginning. "What if I incorporate you into My body, if you deny yourself as an independent self, and I will live in you henceforth and you will be 'crucified with Me' (Galatians 2:20), 'buried with Me' (Romans 6:4), and share the fellowship of My suffering (Philippians 3:10)?"
I have accepted this proposal. Christians are meant to have the same vocation as their King, that of cross-bearers. It is this consciousness of a high calling and of partnership with Jesus which brings gladness in tribulation, and makes Christians enter prisons for their faith with joy.
A person who smugly accepts Christ's dying for him and shouts "hallelujah" about the innocent Son of God receiving punishment he himself deserves is hardly a follower of Christ. Because sacrifice is implicit in a conversion, the call of an evangelist has the name "altar call." Every being placed upon the altar in Jerusalem—lambs, rams, and pigeons—died. Someone died for you. This time it is not an animal, but the Son of God. He has decreed it and nothing you can do will change His mind. You can only accept it in faith and ask for the privilege of henceforth being able to sacrifice yourself as well, for the glory of God (Romans 12:1).
—Adapted from 100 Prison Meditations.