Summary: What does the cross DO for mankind?
THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS
* The story is told of a little girl who was seen wearing a beautiful gold cross around her neck. One day a Man walked up to her and said, “Young lady, I don’t believe the cross that Jesus died on was that pretty.” Her response, “I know, but everything Jesus touches, no Matter how ugly, becomes beautiful.” What a message for us, for our culture, and for everybody!
* To read this letter (1 Corinthians) is to see an entire church body who has lost their way. Divisions, immorality, theological chaos, and even power struggle/leadership issues are in full bloom leaving church crippled and unable to fulfill her purpose in the city. Candidly, while a great deal of activity continued, it is obvious that the spiritual temperature was somewhere between tepid and downright cold.
* When the spiritual temperature of a congregation cools off one of the first fatalities is losing sight of the cross. Losing sight of the cross results in losing sight of God’s grace, gift, and love. In our text Paul writes that 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.”
* Tonight I want to remind us of the Cross of Jesus, of Calvary, of Shame, of Suffering, and of Salvation. How long has it been since you took a fresh look at the cross? How long since you spiritually knelt and looked into the face of Jesus? How long since your heart was deeply stirred by the price Jesus paid for you? Together, let’s consider 4 actions which Calvary gives.
1. DIVIDES – We all like to “think” that the cross pulls everything together and ultimately it does. But make no mistake, initially it divides. We see the hint of this is verse 18 where we read the cross is foolishness to some and power to others. At the risk of being offensive, how does it impact you to hear a message about the cross? Does it sound foolish, simply, or a waste of time OR does it empower you and renew your commitment?
a. People – All we have to do is look around us and we will discover that people are divided by the cross and its message. Right now I can take you to a First Baptist Church in the buckle of the Bible belt who refused the offer of placing a cross in their worship center. Their reasoning? It was offensive and the money could be used in other ways.
* Since the first century people have been divided about the cross beginning with the two thieves crucified with Jesus. Verse 18 reminds us that there are basically 2 groups of people in this world, those who are condemned and those being conformed, those who are of the norm and those being transformed. It’s a reminder of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7.
* The 2 ways, gates, or roads are a clear indication that the cross divides all things. Before we get put together correctly, we must be divided rightly. One man looks at the cross and thinks, “How foolish.” A believer looks on Calvary and says, “What power and love!”
b. Philosophies – Paul asks the question, “Where are the philosophers, scholars, and debaters?” That is, where are these people who ‘think’ they know more than God? While these are rhetorical questions because he knows where they are and what they believe; Paul clearly understands that every philosophy of mankind is wiped out by the cross of Jesus. There is not one philosophy which can stand the scrutiny of Calvary. Philosophies seem to speak in relativistic terms while the cross makes a definitive statement. Paul knows this because he is one of the most highly educated men of his day. Can we simply understand this from the culture of today? There are those whose philosophies are attempting to shape our culture in ways that are contrary to what God teaches us in His word. A sad truth is that many who “claim” to know Jesus are tacitly approving of these philosophies. One of the reasons for this acceptance is that we fail to remember the power of Calvary.
c. PLANS – (Hear this out before your tune me out) When you and I come to the cross, we make a decision which, in effect, makes our plans for tomorrow and beyond. The old hymn, “At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light.” What light was that? It was the light at the end of the darkness which pointed us to a better WAY, LIFE, and Place. This comes back to the question which has been answered by people throughout the centuries, “What will you do with Jesus?” It is the answer to this question which divides people, philosophies, and plans. This question comes into full view when gazing upon the cross.