Summary: Although viewed as foolish and weak to the perishing, out of the cross we receive God’s saving wisdom and power.
Pain. We’ve all felt pain. Pinch yourself or pull on your hair and you’ll feel a certain amount of pain. But how many of you have felt excruciating pain? Come on, you can admit it. I once sprained my right ankle so badly in a basketball game that as it happened, I heard it ripping … and others around me said they heard it, too. The pain was excruciating! Maybe you broke a bone or had an operation or something else happened, and the pain was so bad that there was only one word for you to describe it – excruciating.
Excruciating. Do you know what this word means and where it comes from? It doesn’t just mean really really bad. No, the Romans actually made up this word. You see, the Romans mastered the art of crucifixion, killing people on crosses. Over the years they learned where to pound in the nails through the hands and feet and how to hoist the body upon a cross, all so that the person would suffer in a way unlike any other, and yet death would be prolonged for hours and hours. And so great was this pain with every breath taken that it was called excruciating, which means “out of the cross.” Excruciating pain is literally pain that comes “out of the cross.”
Being a Christian is excruciating, in its own sense. And as we dig more deeply into this Word of God before us this morning, I pray that you will see just how excruciating it really is. Because not only is it excruciating to our smarts, but also, it is excruciating to our strengths. So let’s consider this thought: OUT OF THE CROSS. And what is it that comes out of the cross of Jesus to us? First of all, (1) Foolishness Flows to Show Us God’s Wisdom, but then also (2) Weakness Works to Give Us God’s Greatest Power.
I need some help here from you. All you have to do is answer “yes” or “no” to a few statements; yes is you agree and no if you disagree. #1. God is eternal; he always was and he always will be (yes). #2. God is almighty; he has the power to do anything (yes). #3. God is omnipresent; he is present everywhere all at the same time (yes). #4. God is omniscient; he knows everything, even our deepest thoughts (yes). #5. God is the creator of this universe and all that is in it, both the visible and invisible (yes). Good job! But now comes the tricky one: God is foolish (wait for answers).
How dare we call God foolish, huh? But the truth is, God calls himself foolish right here in his Word: “For the foolishness of God.” This is the irony of ironies, an oxymoron, if you want to call it that. The all-powerful, the all-knowing, the all-wise Creator God who rules over heaven and earth has a foolish side to him. Did you know that? And the foolishness of God is found right here in that which gets the center place in our church – the cross. In fact, on Thursday morning I did a quick walk through the church proper here and in less than two minutes I counted more than 50 crosses. And what is it that is at the highest point of this church? A cross. Think about it, that which gets the most important place in our worship of God is that which we’re told right here by God himself is the foolishness of God – the cross. Wow!
But all of these crosses mean nothing, absolutely nothing, if the true cross of Jesus Christ is not also in our hearts. Here is where it matters the most. In fact, this is the only place where it really matters at all. But also, if the cross of Christ is not in our hearts, then everything else about God is worthless and will do us no good. You see, I can worship God as the Creator God or the almighty God or the all-in-control of everything God. But God says the only way that I can have him as my Savior God is through the cross. There is no other way! It’s either through the cross of Christ that I’m forgiven of my sins and saved, or else I’m lost forever to hell. And the same holds true for you and every other soul in this world.
And that’s why … that’s why the cross takes center stage here, doesn’t it? That is why we have the cross of Christ in our hearts, don’t we? And yet, we cannot overlook the fact that the cross of Christ in our hearts is excruciating. Being in Christ and living in Christ is painful. What does God’s Word say? “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). We crucify the sinful nature with its passions and desires. We don’t just slap the sinful nature on the wrist and say, “Bad boy!” or “Bad girl!” No, we are to crucify the sinful nature. We are to overcome our own sinful opinions that are constantly calling the cross of Christ foolishness.