“But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:23–25.
As I reflect on this month where we commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus, I am profoundly struck by the fact that the apostle Paul considered the message of the cross to be the most difficult message for anyone to accept. In our day and age where the message of Jesus crucified has been preached for ages I ask myself the question “is the message of God’s Son dying on the cross still a stumbling block an foolishness?” As I have reflected on the question I believe there are two reasons that the answer is an emphatic yes!
1. The cross proclaims the bloody truth that we are sinners and sin is not okay! “It won't hurt anyone.” “If it's right for you…” “Don't judge me!” “I'm a good person.” All of these trite sayings are swallowed up in the agonized cry of Calvary, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46) and the answer comes echoing back…“We all like sheep have gone astray everyone to his own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6). No, it is not okay and we are not basically good people; we are all terribly messed up people who think we're fine. The cross is a stumbling block because it testifies to the fact that we are not good people who sometimes do bad things; we are sinful to our core and by nature there is nothing good in us (Romans 7:18). The argument that we can't really be that bad denies the prayer of Gethsemane: “If it is possible let this cup pass from me” (Matt 26:39). The deafening silence of God responds that it is not possible for us to be saved any other way. The message of the cross calls us to look on Him whom we have pierced and mourn for the terrible cost of our own sin (Zach 12:10). Am I ready for God to bring home the agonizing truth of this reality to my heart or do I too stumble at the cross?
2. The cross proclaims the humbling truth that we cannot save ourselves; God must save us. Flying in the face of the self-made man and the images of our own accomplishment, the cross decrees that we can do nothing to save ourselves. The cross demands the death of pride. It is not only the payment for sin, it is the destroyer of it. The cross proclaims that we cannot have self-centeredness and God. One must go, for in every heart there is a throne and the plaque above it reads “God,” only one can sit there and it is always occupied but not usually by God. Self must die. We will never be good enough. We will never work hard enough to merit the grace of God. We must humbly accept that God must save us. He will not do it because we are wonderful people but rather because He loves us. We must accept it as a gift (Eph 2:8-9). Am I willing to let self be crucified and Christ reign in my life or do I too stumble at the cross?
To the world these demands seem too high because this cross is still an offense today, it is foolishness and weakness. But those who accept the truths of the cross find that the foolishness and weakness of God is actually the wisdom and power of God for salvation! The question for my heart is, “will I embrace the foolishness of God?” Or will I stumble over the cross today?