Summary: A consideration of the power of the Cross; those for whom is is God’s power, those for whom it is folly. Shows what God did for us when Christ died on th Cross
I want to turn this morning to look at the passage from 1 Corinthians chapter 1, which places before us the power of the Cross, and as we journey through Lent toward Holy Week it is surely fitting to do so. The Cross is central to our faith as Christians- but I ask, do we always know and appreciate all that it is that God has achieved FOR US
through the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.
First of all I want to stop and note that the Cross separates. It is because of Christ and him crucified that we find Paul so often dividing the human race in two; not because of race, or age, or skill or earthly power. No! The division is on the basis of a person’s reaction to the Cross. For some, Paul says, the Cross and the preaching of the Cross is
foolishness. .Such people are ’perishing’. That word ’perish’ has the sense of putrefaction. And on the general ground of New Testament teaching that includes the human race in its natural state. That is not my evaluation-it is God’s. But there are those who are ’being saved’- and for them, and I trust it means for all of us sitting in this
Church, the Cross is ’the power of God’.
The world, human society at large functions on self-centredness, just as the first man and woman chose the way of self when they decided to take of the forbidden fruit in the Garden. So the natural human instinct is to "look after No 1". The human race also, having rejected God’s command found they could get on alright without him- or so they thought anyway! "Come", said the people of Babel, "let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens [religion], so that we may make a name for ourselves"
The result is that the whole world has come under the judgment of God Almighty. "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth" (Roman 1:18)- or "every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God" (Rom 3:19)
The Cross is not just foolishness;it is an offence. In recent years it has increasingly stirred up hostility in this ’Christian’ country. Patricia Gearing’s daughter died in Mablethorpe in 1998 and she has a simple cross placed on her grave. Before long the local Authority told her to remove it. Oh. she was given and explanation: "Crosses are discouraged, as excessive use of the supreme Christian symbol is undesirable" Permission was granted to erect a Mickey Mouse in its
place! I fear that against an increasing tide of opposition, the Christian Church is so often loosing its nerve. Jesus and him crucified is so often seen as a Mickey Mouse figure.
I shall want to come back to the power of the Cross. But first, let’s note what Paul says about hostility to the Cross in 1 Corinthians..
Firstly, it is an offense to the Jews.
At that period of time the Jews were waiting for their Messiah. But their Messiah would be a military deliverer; he would free the from the heavy hand of Roman tyranny, and establish God’s rule from Jerusalem. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he was enthusiastically greeted as such a one. "Blessed is he who comes in the Name
of the Lord". But they were quickly disappointed: by the end of the week their ’Messiah’ was dead.
It was worse than that. He hung dead on a Roman Cross. They knew the Old Testament edict, "Cursed is anyone hanging on a tree". How could a delivering Messiahend up as a curse. The Cross offended the Jew.
Secondly, it was folly to the Greeks.
The Greeks were great philosophers and if they wanted to know or find God they would find him by logic and reason. The God of the Greek mind could have no feeling. A crucified God just didn’t come on their mental radar. The cross of Christ was folly.
Quite clearly, not every Jew, not every Greek failed to find the power of God in the Gospel of Christ crucified. So in verse 23 we find Paul saying this:
’We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the 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.’ To those who believed, those whom God called, the Cross was wisdom and strength.
The unspoken question which, by implication, this raises is: DO WE WANT TO BE SAVED? God saves not those who approach him with their good deeds, not those reliant on their human wisdom. We must abandon hope- all hope, in either of these. Do we want to be saved, or do we want to perish? In face of this, it’s worth taking note of some words of C.S.Lewis: