Summary: The cross of Christ is the crux of our faith, the focal point of all we believe, and we cannot diminish its importance in our lives.
The Crux of the Matter
September 27, 2009
(open with examples of language funnies from Engrish.com)
Iï¿½ve always been fascinated by words and language. Since I was a little boy, I was always a good speller ï¿½ in fact I was almost 8th grade spelling champ. Guess what word I missed? Faucet. Iï¿½ll never again forget how to spell that word.
Iï¿½ve also enjoyed my little bit of language study. I took Latin in high school, and 2 ï¿½ years of French. It may also be one reason I enjoy studying scripture. Determining the meaning of not just words, but THE Word of God, is an interesting and fascinating challenge.
Part of the reason I enjoy the study of words in general, and the Word of God in particular, is because it challenges my intellect. Many of you are probably thinking, yeah, Bill sure needs his intellect challenged.
But itï¿½s ironic, considering what weï¿½re going to focus on this morning. Youï¿½ll perhaps note the irony here in a moment. This morning, weï¿½re going to look at The Crux of the Matter. I think ï¿½cruxï¿½ is an interesting word. Hereï¿½s a dictionary definition:
1.A vital, basic, decisive, or pivotal point: The crux of the trial was his whereabouts at the time of the murder.
3.something that torments by its puzzling nature; a perplexing difficulty.
Some synonyms for crux are words like essence, heart, core, gist. Itï¿½s a play on words, then, to say that the crux of the matter of our faith, is the cross, because crux is Latin for cross.
Now hereï¿½s the irony. The cross is at the core, it is the essence of, our faith as followers of Christ. Itï¿½s the pivotal point in human history, the decisive moment in Godï¿½s plan of redemption. But to the world, itï¿½s foolishness. To the Greeks of Jesusï¿½ day, the learned, wise, well-educated intellectuals, it was foolishness. And I think to many in our day, the message of the cross is foolishness, too.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (NIV) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than manï¿½s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than manï¿½s strength.
Paul, here writing to the church at Corinth, is not diminishing the importance of the intellect. Heï¿½s saying, essentially, this plan, the cross, the means through which God chose for the salvation of the world to be accomplished, seems like foolishness.
In fact, the root of the word translated foolishness here is the same Greek word from which we get our English word moron. So, I guess that makes us, if we believe in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ ï¿½ that makes us morons.
But, really, itï¿½s not foolishness to us. To those who are perishing it seems like foolishness, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.
To those who are perishing, itï¿½s not just foolish, itï¿½s offensive. In Galatians 5:11, Paul writes about the offense of the cross. The cross is indeed offensive to people. It was offensive in Jesusï¿½ day, and I believe the message of the cross is no less offensive today. It was offensive then in part because crucifixion was so barbaric. Today, familiarity with the story of Jesus can diminish our offense at crucifixionï¿½s brutality.
"the cross of Jesus sounds so familiar to our ears, that we are in danger of forgetting just how dreadful, how horrific, how offensive, it was. We make crosses of brass as ornaments. We wear the cross as jewelry. Perhaps we should wear an emblem such as a miniature electric chair, or a hangmanï¿½s noose - for that is what it is a symbol of - shameful execution. Unlike the electric chair, crucifixion was one of the most refined processes of torture that twisted human justice has ever devised. It was the extreme punishment, reserved for the worst kind of criminal....The victim was totally degraded in his naked, vulnerable shame. It was an offensive thing." Bruce Goettsche