The Message of the Cross

cross-2981216_640.jpgThird Sunday in Lent (March 4, 2018)

Exodus 20:1-17  •  Psalm 19  •  1 Corinthians 1:18-25  •  John 2:13-22

18 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 19 As the Scriptures say,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
    and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”

20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. 22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom.23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.

24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 New Living Translation (NLT)

This week is the third Sunday of Lent. It is a season of preparation. Like Pam shared in her devotional a few weeks ago, Lent is like spiritual spring training.  We are journeying toward the cross.  We have been in this passage during the last year.

There are many who think the message of the cross is foolishness.  From what we hear Paul writing, we know that this is nothing new.  We are reminded that the message of the cross is not foolishness, but it is the very power of God. Those who have been saved as a result of Christ’s work on the cross know this very well.

Yes, Paul reminds us, there will be many – philosophers, scholars, and debaters – who who will declare that Christianity is foolish – that it is a crutch.  The message of the cross doesn’t make sense – at least to our human minds – in our human wisdom.  But for those who are called by God – to salvation – that’s where the cross makes all the difference.  God’s power is in the cross – God’s wisdom is in the cross. Sometimes it’s hard to understand that. The cross was such an instrument of torture, but because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross – because he paid the penalty for our sin on the cross, we can know God’s power.  In another passage in Philippians, Paul writes,

For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! – Philippians 3

This is why the message of the cross is the wisdom and power of God.

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