“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles… For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Paul’s words quoted above bring to my mind the fact that you and I have centered our lives on a very strange message. I easily forget how strange it is because it has become so familiar to me. When I try to think of it from the point of view of someone looking on from the outside, though, it strikes me all over again: this really would seem like foolishness to so many people!
Why is our hero a crucified one? To ancient people of the Roman empire, to whom the Messiah and His message first came, the notion of crucifixion was an abhorrent one. To be crucified was to be utterly defeated, humiliated, and disgraced. A supposed king of the Jews being crucified by Romans at the insistence of Jewish leaders would mean complete rejection by the powers of both the Jewish and Gentile worlds.
As you meditate on the meaning and power of the suffering and sacrifice of our Master, Disciple, I invite you to consider the unexpectedness and strangeness of God’s strategy. He decided to accomplish His purposes in a way that would be difficult for Jews and Gentiles to understand: “a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles”. Why would the Chosen One of God meet such a horrific fate? Why would the One who is supposed to have all authority and power as Lord be the victim of the punishment that represents such weakness and dishonor?
We come to understand the genius and poetry of our Father’s strategy only when we have come to be filled by His Spirit and immersed in His Word. Only then does He reveal the power of the crucified Christ’s blood and body to bring death to our sins and the inauguration of a new and greater covenant with God. While the message of the victorious Hero who died on a cross seems bizarre to the world, it has become beautiful to us. For power expressed in humble love, not in brutality, is the only kind of power that could meet our truest needs. Only the crucified and risen Lord could both win our affection and break our chains. All hail the crucified Messiah and the Almighty Father who raised Him to life the third day!
Marveling at the mystery with you,