Summary: A sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Lent
3 Lent Sermon
"The Weakness of God??"
22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,
23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,
24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
We like winners. Our culture, our country, our society are caught up with the idea of winning. Winning, succeeding, getting ahead, overcoming great obstacles these are the ideals, these are the goals that society places on all people. We can see this as evidence by our preoccupation with sports. We like to see our team win. We like to follow a winner. I get caught up in that mentality each basketball season as I watch closely the progress of the Iowa Hawkeyes on the their road to the final four. I cheer when they win and I become sober, down cast when they loose.
Not only in sports, but through out all of life, we like to see and know about people who have succeeded. We like to read, or watch stories on TV of people who have overcome great mental or physical obstacles, then making a success of their lives. In the Reader’s Digest, I get caught up in the stories, "Drama in Real Life" as someone overcomes great odds to succeed. We like to see the underdog get ahead and become a winner.
In 1982 a story appeared in the Des Moines Register about a high school basketball player who hurt himself while weight lifting, and how he had broken and strained something in his back to a point where the doctors didn’t know if he would walk again. But the feeling in his legs returned, and now the boy is at the gym trying to learn to run and shoot baskets again. The article talked about his winning attitude, about the way he has overcome his accident, how he was making himself a winner again.
I wonder if they would have printed the article, if this boy had remained paralyzed from the neck down and then had to live the every day unglamorous struggle of having someone feed him, dress him, help him in the toilet. I wonder if they would have printed this article showing the frustration, the hurt, the helplessness that someone who is paralyzed feels. I wonder if they would have told about the pain of isolation, the hurt of rejection, the feeling that society doesn’t like losers only winners? I wonder they we only hear about those who make it back, and not about those who are daily struggling with the brokenness of life?? There are many people who live lives of quiet brokenness and frustration, sensing, feeling the strong cultural preoccupation with winning, getting ahead and knowing they have given their all, they have tried, but cannot break out of their individual brokenness and have to live day in and day out with the consequences of this struggle.
Yes, we want winners. We want glamour, we went to see power, strength and courage. We want success!!
There was a group of people living about 2000 years ago that were in the same boat as you and I, they wanted only winners. They could not accept, or understand a looser, so they rejected this looser, they felt he didn’t measure up to their expectations, they felt he hadn’t achieved enough. They wanted a winner. I am talking about the Jewish people who Paul is addressing in our lesson from I Corinthians. The Jews were expecting someone who would be a great victorious leader, someone who would conquer the world, someone who would drive out the Romans.
They wanted be to be a winner. They wanted someone who would make them feel good about themselves, someone who would be their leader. So when Jesus of Nazareth came along, they rejected him because in Jesus they saw one who was meek and lowly, one who deliberately avoided the spectacular, one who served and who ended on a Cross- - and it seemed to them an impossible picture of the Chosen one of God.
To the Jew the fact of the crucifixion, so far from proving that Jesus was the Son of God, disproved it finally. Even with texts like Isaiah 53, the Jews can never dream of a suffering Messiah. The Cross to the Jew is a barrier to the belief that Jesus is the Son of God.
Paul says, "the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." What may seem foolish to our eyes is indeed wisdom to God, what might seem like weakness in our eyes, is really strength in the eyes of God.