Summary: Perhaps we don’t understand that ancient mentality of hostility towards the preaching of the cross but the Apostle Paul did. And though he KNEW that people regarded the idea of God on a cross as vile and shameful, not only did he preach it, but he glor
GLORY IN THE SHAME!
Today, at least in Western society, the cross is a perfectly acceptable symbol, a rather
harmless token of the Christian faith. Most people, except perhaps some of the trouble-making
sort, take no offense at all to the sight of a cross. In fact, many people who do not actively
follow Jesus Christ, still wear His symbol around their necks.
But did you know that originally, the cross was one of the most degraded and debased
symbols imaginable? In the earliest days of the Church, the cross was not only perceived by
society as an instrument of torture and death, but as a symbol of utter shame.
We need to understand that in the ancient mind, crucifixtion, and the cross as its symbol,
was regarded as vile and vulgar, and was used quite literally as a “curse word”. Crucifixtion was
clearly understood to be the crudest and most dishonourable form of death. So the concept of
a perfect God dying such a death (ON A CROSS) was absolutely ludicrous. Listen to what some
early historians had to say about the Christian message of the cross.
* The offense of the Christian cross was frequently described by the Greek word “mania”
which means “madness”. It was common for people to consider Christians mad for
believing that God would actually be nailed to a cross!
* The ancient historian, Plinius Secundus called the preaching of the cross “a perverse and
extravagant superstition” and said that Christian suffered from amentia (which is a
* The orator Caecilius (a contemporary of Marcus Aurelius) said that Christians suffered
from “sick delusions” and a “senselessand crazy superstition” and adds, “Not least among
the monstrosities of their faith is the fact that they worship one who has been crucified.”
Martin Hengel, in his book, “Crucifixtion” states “A crucified messiah, son of God, or God
must have seemed a contradiction in terms to anyone, Jew, Greek, Roman or barbarian, asked to
believe such a claim, and it will certainly have been thought offensive and foolish.”
Perhaps we don’t understand that ancient mentality of hostility towards the preaching of the
cross but the Apostle Paul did. And though he KNEW that people regarded the idea of God on a
cross as vile and shameful, not only did he preach it, but he gloried in it! The educated,
sophistocated, former Jewish Rabbi and Sanhedrin ruler said that the only thing he found
worth bragging about was “the cross of Jesus Christ!” Paul said, “If I will do any bragging at all,
it will be in the cross of Jesus Christ!”
I find it utterly amazing that God could take the vilest of symbols, the cross, and turn it
into a glorious token of victory! That God Himself would not only visit us, but would allow
Himself to be viciously nailed to that “emblem of suffering and shame”, fills my heart and soul
with utter amazement! Only God could do such a thing! Only God could bring glory from the
And do not be mistaken! The crucifixtion of Jesus was truly a shameful event! It was at the
cross where our sins were dumped upon Jesus. It was at the cross where He became sin for us.
(Did you know that the cross was the closest that God has ever come to feeling like a sinner?)
He took it ALL for us! What a shame! But He defeated death! He defeated hell! He defeated
the grave! What a triumph! And Paul says, that’s worth bragging about!
It ought to be our attitude as well, to find glory in the message of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Let’s look a little more closely at Paul’s words, and notice why we can find glory in the cross and
why it’s message is so vital!
WHAT DOES THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS ACCOMPLISH...
I IT REGENERATES
A In context here, Paul is talking about those who try to impress God by the keeping of
1. There were a group of people called “Judiazers” who tried to compromise the gospel
by mixing in an adherence to the law. (They wanted to mix “grace” and “law”)
2. Paul says in verse 13, that these people couldn’t even keep the law themselves that
they were expecting others to keep.
B It’s really ridiculous when you think about it, that some people actually think that they
can impress God with their own goodness.
1. Such a belief system is known as RELIGION.
2. But we don’t need Religion -- we need a relationship.
3. The relationship that we can have with God is brought about by the fact that HE
DIED FOR US ON THE CROSS!
4. Paul was sure of this. He staked his whole life upon it.