Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Message of the Cross

“The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  1 Corinthians 1:18 NRSV

What exactly is the “message of the cross” that would be foolishness to some but Divine Power to others?  That Jesus died on the cross is not much of a stretch since this was a favored form of execution.  That Jesus was falsely accused by the religious authorities of His day is also not so hard to grasp since many of us have fallen victim to accusations and innuendo not quite true or outright false because someone sought to deliberately do us harm.  No, the execution of a Man wrought by a stirred up crowd and a power-hungry elite is not hard to imagine.

Yet this particularly gruesome and cruel method of execution had its purposes, not least of which was to put on public display those who ran afoul of the Empire’s authority.  Surely it was intended as much a warning to others as a method of execution.  Crucifixion was a means of extolling the power of humans.

The “power of God”, then, is not so much on display in the moment of torture and death; for Jesus Himself taught we must not “fear those who can kill the body and after that can do no more” (Luke 12:4).  For even though they may kill the body, there is no real power in that.  Sadly, we live in a society now in which persons are killed almost daily.  We cannot – must not! – give any measure of “power” to thugs who have no respect for life and living, let alone themselves.  They are indeed “perishing”; but they are so drunk with their own concept of power, they hardly notice their slow demise.

No, the “message of the cross” is not limited to that moment in which Jesus slowly and painfully died.  The “message of the cross” is that there is no power in the hands of mortal men and women over life.  Yes, they can “kill the body”, but their “foolishness” is in their false belief that this is where power truly resides. 

The “message of the cross” is not solely at Calvary, for this is where the mortal body of Jesus died.  The “message of the cross” is this: the Word of God will endure despite our efforts to put it away when that Word interferes with our own plans.  The Word of God cannot be diminished nor robbed of its ultimate Power by any act of mortals.  We can water it down and we can even modify what is written to suit our own purposes (like taking a passage out of context, or trying to convince ourselves “that’s not what it really means”), but we accomplish nothing of lasting value because it is not the Pure Word.

The “message of the cross” is this: humanity’s foolishness and pride.  We may think we own any given moment, but that moment will surely pass.  Indeed “heaven and earth will pass away, but My Word will not pass away” (Mark 13:31).  That’s real Power, and it is that Power which saves.

The Lord is great, is He not?


No comments: