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1 Corinthians 1:21-25 says:
For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to 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. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
Today, I want to talk about preaching Christ crucified. When some people hear those words, they say or think, “I’ve heard all of that before, so what is the big deal? Why does it matter?”
There is a danger with that kind of calloused and indifferent thinking. It is dangerous because Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross is the very heart of the Christian faith. Without it there is no remission of sins, no forgiveness, no eternal life in heaven. That is a big deal.
In Paul’s letter to the Church in the city of Corinth, he mentions that:
“… we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”
Why does the Apostle Paul use words like “a stumbling block” and “foolishness” in reference to preaching Christ crucified?
Let me stop right here and have a little heart to heart with you.
*Have you heard the gospel so many times that you have grown used to it, or even worse, calloused to it?
*Do you realize the full impact of the meaning of Jesus dying to save sinners from hell?
*Are you so familiar with the gospel story, that familiarity has begun to breed contempt?
*Have you exchanged God’s wisdom and Christian faith for worldly pleasures and selfish living?
- says eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you might die.
- says live for the moment and get all you can get.
- says do what you want, when you want and how you want.
- says you are the center of the universe, you are god.
- says man knows better than God, because God really does not exist.
It doesn’t work that way, folks. It will be God’s way or no way. The created things do not tell the creator what to do.
Remember, Adam and Eve bought into the lie of worldly wisdom and it got them a one-way ticket out of the Garden of Eden, hard labor and, eventually, a plot in a grave yard. Be careful with any wisdom that does not come from God.
God’s wisdom is different. As a matter of fact, it might seem foolish.
Because God, in his wisdom, allowed himself to look foolish so that he might rescue a world hell-bent on destruction.
There are some who think it foolish:
- that the son of God would come down to this earth and be conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary.
- that he would be fed and diapered like other babies.
- that he would grow up learning to read and write like other children.
- that he would learn the trade of carpentry from his stepfather Joseph.
- that he would be baptized by John the Baptist, his cousin.
- that he would then begin to preach and teach a message of repentance.
- that he would cast out demons, heal the sick, feed the multitudes and raise the dead.
- that he would be betrayed by his close friend, falsely accused and tried.
- that he would be nailed to a Roman cross to die at the hands of his own creation, and then rise from the dead three days later.
These thing do not seem logical to human standards. They seem like foolishness. It seems crazy that God the son would leave the glory and majesty of heaven, lower himself by taking on human flesh and blood, and then allow himself to die a shameful death on a Roman cross.
The preaching of the cross has never gone over very well among those who do not have the Spirit of God to open their blind spiritual eyes.
But we know that, “the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
Many people today still don’t get it. Many people are offended or embarrassed by a crucified Christ, so they seek out a different kind of Jesus. Some so-called preachers make Jesus out to be nothing more than:
- a kind of genie in a bottle who will grant your wishes of health, wealth and happiness – that is if you have enough faith to claim it.
- a moral kind of Jesus or a “good works” Jesus to show you how to live a good, decent life.
- a “force be with you” Jesus, who is made out to be an internal motivating force to help you reach your full potential.
This kind of nonsense may get people to fill the pews of a church building, but it will not lead a sinner to repent and turn to the real Jesus. Preaching Christ crucified may not be trendy, but it is the one thing that will save a sinner and lead him to heaven and away from an eternity in hell.
Some people think we should not make such a big deal about sin. If you think that sin is not a big deal, take a good hard look at Jesus on the cross. Imagine, if you were the one that had to hang there for your sin, then you will realize why sin is a big deal — it cost God his only son.
At the cross, the enormity of our sin comes into focus:
- at the cross Jesus was made to be sin for us.
- at the cross Jesus’ sacred body was tortured and his most precious blood spilled to wash away our sins.
- at the cross Jesus offered himself in our place so that we could receive his righteousness for our guilt, his holiness for our shame, his purity for our filth.
“The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25).
The cross is not just any old symbol, it is a symbol that points to Christ crucified for the forgiveness and salvation of mankind. For this crucified Christ is our only hope in this world and the next.