Summary: Why do we preach Christ crucified?
The Power of the Cross
Rev. Dr. Michael H. Koplitz
1 Cor 1:20-24
In Jesus’ day, eastern people looked for a sign of some sort to tell them that God was doing something huge for them. The three magi who traveled from Persia to Bethlehem saw a special star in the eastern sky, and they knew that the Messiah of the LORD was born. When Moses was at the Red Sea, and it seemed like the people were about to be exterminated, the LORD came and showed them a sign by parting the Red Sea.
On the other hand, Western people used their wisdom and philosophy to determine if God was working in their lives. Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates developed Greek philosophy. The people were taught that they had to explain a God event through wisdom and deep thought. A question for you is how do you determine what a God event is? When you see something that looks impossible, do you immediately attribute it to God working in your life, or do you look for an explanation?
Why do so many people today have difficulty accepting God? Perhaps a possible explanation is that our schools teach that everything that happens must have a cause or effect because of something. Sometimes we have to accept that science and philosophy cannot explain everything that happens. We do not know all the processes that work in the world nor how everything works in God’s creation. Sometimes you have to have faith that the world will unfold in a way that God controls. It is God who established the laws of nature. There are many things that we still have to learn.
As Christians, we preach something that both the ancient eastern and western people had trouble grasping. Our friend Paul explained to both eastern and western people what Christ crucified on the cross means to humanity. As Paul traveled throughout the Roman world, he was ready to explain the critical event in human history to people who were not as receptive to the idea as we are today. I am sure that you accept that Jesus on the cross was a turning point in human history. Indeed knowing that Jesus died on the cross for our salvation is something we openly admit. For the people whom Paul was telling the message of salvation, they would have had a lot of trouble with the concept.
How does a man dying on a cross offer salvation? What a great question, and it is one that I had. It is a difficult concept to explain because it makes no sense from the point of view of wisdom. Death on a cross in Roman times was a sign of shame, failure, and dishonorable defeat. Jesus preached the fantastic message of love, grace, and peace. He told people and us today to repent our sins and place our faith and trust in God. He traveled in Galilee and Judea, demonstrating that God loves us. He pondered why people would not accept this simple formula.
Jesus preached and healed people for three years. Many people adopted the opposition to His new teaching. However, many did not accept the message. When Jesus was brought before Herod Antipas, Herod asked Jesus to produce a sign. Jesus did not create the sign; rather, the Roman government did. It was death on a cross. Also, it was not a sign.
The idea of Jesus’ death on a cross for us sounds crazy to the ears of people in Jesus’ day. A cross was a horrible death. It was humiliating. It was brutal. It was a death reserved for people who grievously broke the law. Jesus was a man of peace. He said to love your enemy and help them when you can. He spoke about everyone in the world being a member of the Kingdom of Heaven and the same spiritual family. He showed God’s love to everyone he met.
But he died on a cross. Christianity preaches that Jesus’ death on the cross was a turning point in history. Salvation and forgiveness for sins became available to all of us. Paul went out into the Roman world to preach this very odd-sounding and new philosophy. To many people today, it is odd. But wait a minute. Are we out there preaching about Jesus the Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sin and eternal life with God? Ask yourself that fundamental question. Are you preaching Christ crucified? You do not have to be a certified or trained preacher to do this. YOU CAN DO THIS.
We are talking about the very foundation of the Christian religion. Jesus, the Messiah of God, was crucified for the sins of the world. If you are not preaching this, telling non-believers about this truth, you should not be surprised that our membership and attendance in the church are dropping like a lead weight. Paul preached Christ crucified wherever he went. He was not concerned that there were people who were going to reject the message. He was not worried by what people thought of him. None of that mattered. To Paul, his only purpose after meeting Jesus was to preach Christ crucified to as many people as he could. The hardship of travel and the wrath of some towns did not stop him. He risked his life several times to preach Christ crucified. Since Paul did it in his lifetime, Jesus expect us to preach Christ crucified now. So, are you out in the world preaching Christ crucified?