Summary: Paul declares, "The Jews stumble over the cross. And the Greeks think it is foolishness. But others see in it the power & wisdom of God." And there are still those 3 kinds of people in the world today. (*PowerPoint available - #243)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
(Changed e-mail address:PowerPoint slides used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at email@example.com with your request - #243.)
(This is an update and a revision of a message that I preached back in 1994.)
ILL. There is a story about a little girl who proudly wore a shiny cross on a chain around her neck. One day she was approached by a man who said to her, “Little girl, don’t you know that the cross Jesus died on wasn’t beautiful like the one you’re wearing? It was an ugly, wooden thing.” To which the girl replied, “Yes, I know. But they told me in Sunday School that whatever Jesus touches, He changes.”
A. That is part of the message of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:18-20, "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?”
And in vs’s 22-25 Paul continues, "Jews demand miraculous signs & Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews & foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews & Greeks, Christ the power of God & the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, & the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength."
ILL. Do you remember? A few years ago the topic of the day on an Oprah Winfrey show was "Having Affairs With Married Men." She had brought together several people who were having affairs to get their comments on how they felt about it.
One lady responded very positively, saying that her affair with a married man had been a long-standing affair, & she was very happy in it.
Then someone raised the question of morality. Instantly, the woman took offense. "Wait a minute," she said. "I’m a Christian, but I want everyone to know that my personal life & my religion don’t interfere with one another."
Then she went on to say, "I believe in a God who wants me to be happy. And if this man makes me happy, then God approves of the relationship."
That’s an amazing belief, & I wonder where she found it, because it’s not in the Bible. But that kind of thinking is not new at all. It has been around for a long time.
B. People have always wanted a God who will place His stamp of approval upon their life-style, never requiring any change for the better. And they have come up with all kinds of euphemisms to make it sound all right.
So what used to be called "living in sin" is now called "a committed relationship." What used to be called "abstinence" is now called "a neurotic inhibition." And what used to be called "killing the unborn" is now called "pro choice."
Jesus encountered that attitude in His day. He looked at the Pharisees & Sadducees & called them "hypocrites" & "whitewashed tombs." On the outside they appeared to be pious & prayerful & obedient to God. But inside they were rotten.
There are people like that today. The lady on Oprah’s show was just an example. There are far too many who want a God who doesn’t require any changes in us, & who places His stamp of approval on whatever way we want to live.
C. But sooner or later, we bump into an old rugged cross. There we meet a God who says, "I don’t like your sin. It is so horrible that it requires me to go to the cross & suffer & die to free you from the punishment you deserve."
PROP. Then Paul declares, "The Jews stumble over the cross. And the Greeks think it is foolishness. But others see in it the power & wisdom of God." And there are still those 3 kinds of people in the world today.
I. THE JEWS
A. The Jews stumbled over it because Jesus wasn’t the kind of Messiah they wanted. That’s strange, because the Jews had been carefully picked by God. He had watched over & protected them down through the generations, & had prepared them to be the nation through whom the Messiah would come.
But when He came, they crucified Him. The Bible says that Jesus "…came to His own, & those who were His own did not receive Him." (John 1:11)
Why? Why didn’t they receive Him? Because the "Jews demand miraculous signs…" They were expecting a Messiah who would perform miracles on their behalf.