The Power of the Cross
It is hard to imagine anything weaker than a man hanging on a cross. Since he is naked, he is completely vulnerable. He is exposed not only to the elements, but also to the shame of his nakedness. His body is there for all to see in in all its frailty.
The weakness of the cross is also physical. The longer the man hangs on the cross, the weaker he becomes. His heart and breath grow faint until he expires. There is nothing he can do to save himself from his inevitable demise. A man crucified is a weakling. He is a victim, not a victor.
The weakness of a crucified man may help explain why so many people have rejected Jesus Christ. Perhaps they have heard about his teaching. They know that His biography is contained somewhere in the Bible. They may even believe that He was crucified. But it does not seem to matter. What is so significant about a man hanging on a cross?
Christians believe that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, with His resurrection, was the most important event in the history of the world. For us, the cross of Christ is the source of all hope and comfort. Yet the same cross that is so attractive to the followers of Christ is exactly what keeps others from coming to Him at all.
This was true already in the time of Christ. The Jews were looking for something supernatural. Under Roman occupation, they controlled neither their economy nor their destiny. So the Jews ‘demand[ed] miraculous signs’ (1 Cor. 1:22). They expected God to send a King to deliver them from Roman oppression. They were looking for a supernatural deliverance by a mighty warrior. They would not believe in Jesus unless He showed them a miraculous sign.
If the cross is a scandal to the Jewish religion, it was an absurdity to the Greek culture. The wisdom of the Greeks was not the practical wisdom of the Old Testament but the philosophic wisdom of reason. They sought to know God by argument. By their standards, the message of the cross seemed extremely foolish. The notion that God would manifest himself in human flesh and claim to save the world in such a savage and naïve way was clearly nonsense.
So the wise people of Greece, the religious teachers of Judea and the sophisticated public commentators of the age all rejected the possibility that God had done anything of revealing and saving significance in the cross of Christ. It so contradicted their expectations, formed according to their conventional canons of wisdom and power, that they failed entirely to see the true situation.
The truth was that the reality of the cross was entirely different from how they saw it. it manifested the power… and the wisdom of God. The ‘scandal’ was the greatest good news the Jews would ever hear. The ‘embarrassment’ unveiled the majesty of God. The ‘foolishness’ was the greatest wisdom the Greeks would ever encounter. When all human systems of religion and thought failed to relate people to God, ‘God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.’
How could this be? Simply because ‘the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.’ In that cross, God was outsmarting the world and accomplishing something to our advantage by overpowering our enemies and releasing us from their grip.
This Lord’s Day we pray that you join us to discover how God was outsmarting the world and accomplishing something to our advantage. Why don’t you bring someone along with you to hear the wonderful news of what God has accomplished at the old, cursed cross. Will you pray for our service? Pray that the Holy Spirit visit us with his presence in the preaching of the Word this week as we look at 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. I eagerly anticipate worshiping the Lord with you this Sunday as we continue surveying the ‘wondrous cross of Christ.’