“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
Who is the “I” that has been crucified with Christ?
First, it is the “I” that thinks itself justified by its observance of the Law. The “I” that returns – as the Galatians were doing, and as Peter had once done in Antioch – to building up the things it once tore down, the way of following God’s Law.
This “I” no longer lives, declares Paul. It has been nailed to the cross along with Christ Himself. It has been crucified with Christ.
However, dead men don’t talk. The “I” that can make this ringing declaration of identification with Christ is another “I”: the “I” that has faith in Jesus Christ, and lives by that faith. The “I” that looks so much to Jesus rather than to itself that Paul can speak as if no “I” remains, but only Christ: “it is Christ who lives in me”.
As Luther writes:
“Faith connects you so intimately with Christ, that He and you become as it were one person. As such you may boldly say: ‘I am now one with Christ. Therefore Christ’s righteousness, victory, and life are mine.’ On the other hand, Christ may say: ‘I am that big sinner. His sins and his death are mine, because He is joined to me, and I to Him.’”
Here is good news twice over. The “I” that is “that big sinner” – the “I” that tries (and fails) to justify itself by the works of the Law – is declared by Christ Himself to have died with Him on the cross. But the “I” that is one with Christ by faith rises with Him from the grave, sharing His “righteousness, victory and life”.
Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for the gift of faith, by which my sins have died Your death, and I can live Your life, Your righteousness and Your victory. Amen.