Summary: This sermon contrasts the misunderstandings many have of the cross with the true meaning and power of the cross.
The Power of the Cross
January 19, 2003
A. The Bible refers to the power of Jesus when it says that He is seated at God’s right hand.
1. [The Left Hand of God.]
The story is told of a little girl and her mom discussing the morning Sunday school class.
The child told her mom that they talked about Jesus going up to heaven and that He is now sitting beside God.
As they continued to look at the Sunday School paper, the mother noticed a picture of a rainbow. She said, “Look at that beautiful rainbow that God painted for us!”
The little girl replied, “And just think, Mommy, God did it all with His left hand.”
The mother replied, “What do you mean?
Can’t God use both His hands?”
The girl stated, “Of course not, Mom, my Sunday School Teacher said that Jesus is sitting on His right hand.”
2. Unfortunately the little girl, and many folks today, are a little confused about the power of God.
3. Today I want to consider the Power of the Cross.
B. As we continue our series in 1 Corinthians, in chapter 1 verse 18, Paul says God has given us a message of salvation through the cross.
C. The cross is the central fact of the Gospel.
1. Paul wants the Corinthians to focus on the cross.
2. And we should do the same.
D. This morning I want to consider three different perspectives of the cross.
1. The Jew and the cross.
2. The Gentile and the cross.
3. And the Christian and the cross.
4. Let’s read our text, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.
5. Now let’s first consider...
I. THE JEW AND THE CROSS
A. Verse 22 says the Jews looked for signs.
1. It was a time of false messiahs.
2. And so the Jewish leaders asked Jesus to show them signs (Matthew 12:38).
3. Signs and miracles confirmed the message of God but did not save people from their sins.
4. But Jesus did perform many signs and miracles to prove He was the Messiah.
B. Verse 23 says the cross was a stumbling block to the Jews.
1. The term: “stumbling block”—from the Greek word “skandalon.”
a. We get our word “scandal” from this.
b. We may not get what stumbling block means, but we certainly understand what scandals are, don’t we?
c. We understand Watergate, Iran-Contra Scandal, Whitewater, Fund Raising scandals, and Corporate Accounting scandals.
d. Now just think about something like that, even on a smaller scale, happening in the church.
e. Something like that could cause people to have problems with Christianity.
f. And indeed, during the 80’s there were plenty of scandals in the church; there were several well-known preachers involved in scandals.
g. Those things caused people to stumble over Christianity.
h. Today we have the sex scandals in the Catholic Church and those things get in the way of people’s understanding of Christianity.
2. Now, whether or not you believe their point of view, you must know this fact: Jews see the cross as a stumbling block.
a. The Jew considered the cross a “scandal” because of Deuteronomy 21:23.
b. It says, quote, “anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.”
c. It may be difficult from your Christian point-of-view to understand this Jewish point-of-view, but you need to accept it as a fact.
d. If you had only been taught the OT scriptures, you too would see the cross as a stumbling block to receiving Christ as your Lord and Savior.
3. The Jews did indeed look for signs.
a. And the cross was a bad sign to them.
b. I suppose you could say that Jesus was indeed under a curse when He hung upon the cross, because He was bearing the sins of the entire world upon Him.
c. And those sins needed to be crucified.
d. They needed to be nailed on a cross and be under God’s curse.
e. But once those sins were put to death and Jesus rose from the dead, He is no longer under a curse.
f. He’s alive and at God’s right hand--just the opposite of being under a curse.
h. But to the Jews, the cross was a bad sign.
i. The cross was a scandal. The cross was a stumbling block.
C. Is the cross a stumbling block for you?
1. You may wonder how the cross could be a stumbling block to people today.
2. But I can tell you that there are a lot of non-Jewish, Gentile people today who have a problem with the cross because it is not the way of salvation that we would prefer.
3. We would prefer to get to heaven by our good deeds.