Summary: The Cross, God's Plan, Wisdom, Faith
4 Views from the Cross – The World Views a Failure
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (p. 793) March 6, 2016
Suppose I showed up one day from a foreign country and said I’ve got an amazing story I want to share with you...
A Peruvian peasant by the name of Carlos was put to death in the electric chair in order to pay for your sins.
I’ve even written a song:
[“Carlos was there on that horrible chair.
They tied him down with bolts
and zapped him with 40,000 volts.
It was for you Carlos fried and died.
The wisdom of the world has been rejected
because Carols electrocuted.
He is my Savior and my lamp
because he absorbed every deadly amp.
Now I know that God does care
because He sent Carlos to the electric chair.]
You would say, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”
That’s the most foolish religion anyone has ever invented – you have to be absolutely crazy if you expect me to believe something like that...what kind of fool do you think I am?
In fact it’s more than foolish...it’s downright offensive.
“You expect me to believe that some itinerate preacher peasant named Carlos was sentenced to death in the electric chair as my Savior? Good and righteous people do not die in electric chairs!”
Now imagine I’ve shared this “good news” with you and you don’t have 2,000 years of Christian history to hear it through...all you’ve got is how you’ve always thought about electric chairs and who dies in electric chairs.
That’s how people viewed the message of Jesus dying on a cross.
In the 1st century crucifixion was a thing of shame....reserved for only the worst of society...when Jewish people heard about the cross they remembered Deuteronomy 21:23 which says “Anyone who hung on a tree is under God’s curse.”
The Romans viewed the cross as a punishment for the most lowly crimes and the most violent criminals...or for those who continually had a life of crime.
The image of the cross evoked the most horrible and embarrassing death possible.
So when the Apostle Paul comes to Corinth with his story he understands how both Jews and Gentiles see the cross...the world saw Jesus as a failure, and even worse, a fool for dying on a cross.
I. THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS DIVIDES AND UNIFIES
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it the power of God.” (v. 18)
The message of the cross creates a division within humanity: Those who are perishing...those who are being saved.
It doesn’t matter who you are...the color of your skin or your economic status, or the language you speak...you fall into one of those two groups.
There is no halfway house, demilitarized zone or neutrality...every single person will be condemned or saved by what they do at the foot of the cross.
And the stumbling block for every one of us who stand there involves a little three letter word called “sin.”
[I grew up with an amazing dad...he could fix anything...or he would stay with it until he figured out how to fix it...He taught me how to use tools, weld, cut and measure... (twice). As I got older he used to say, “Rick Tic let me show you how to do this.” And my independent spirit would say, “I know how to do this...I’ve got this Dad.” I hated admitting I couldn’t do it on my own...or didn’t know how...shockingly, something I still struggle with.]
I believe it’s that attitude within every single human heart that makes accepting the message of the cross so hard to accept.
It’s why Paul shares a quote from Isaiah 29:14 where God says “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
The first sin in the garden of Eden involved a desire “to be like God and have their own knowledge of good and evil.” Satan’s war for control in heaven involved his pride...and Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden involved theirs. “I know how to do this...I don’t need your help dad.”
Whether you are a Roman, a Jew, or an American, this spirit of independence lives in your heart....the Greek world tried to answer the questions of life with deep philosophy. The Jews tried to answer it with the covenant and the hope of a conquering Messiah...one thought “with enough information and knowledge we can figure it out on our own. The other thought...we have a heritage that guarantees our salvation...and pretty soon God will send us a warrior to put us back on top...both were wrong...and the cross would be the proving ground.
“Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but 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.”