Tuesday, April 12
Reader: “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction!”
Response: “But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.”
Scripture: I Corinthians 1:18-31
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. As the Scriptures say,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”
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. 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. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 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.
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”
In previous years of Lenten devotionals, we approached Holy Week from more of a chronological perspective, following the daily events in Jesus’ life as the week unfolded. This year I want to shift the focus a bit and look at the events from the world’s viewpoint.
Paul helps us here giving the overview in the first two sentences of today’s passage. Read them again.
The message of the cross, that all people are sinners and in need of salvation through Jesus Christ alone, is, I dare say, irrelevant and presumptuous to the majority of people in the world. To them it’s religious froth. Philosophers look within seeking brilliant human answers to these questions regarding: the existence of evil, of why there is something rather than nothing, is the universe real, free will, does God exist, is there life after death, where did we get the idea of morality and where does it come from? How do you answer these questions apart from the Scriptures? Philosophers wax eloquently and endlessly in their wisdom coming to no conclusions. “God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.”
Some scholars and theologians continue to search for the historical Jesus. Every year around Christmas time magazines publish articles about true Christianity, the historical Jesus, the gospel of Thomas, and other apocryphal writings. There are current ongoing debates as to Paul’s underlying perspective in his writings or the idea of Open Theism for a couple of examples. The point here is not to get into a discussion of the above, but to notice that scholars can be lost in their own speculations. In no way do we wish to minimize scholarship and study, but there can be the temptation to get lost in discussion and debate pushing to prove “my argument is better than your argument.” “God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.”
We come next to the world’s brilliant debaters. (You may recall the clip on March 28th of Christopher Hutchins debating John Lennox.) Paul dealt with debate in his era and it continues to today. In Paul’s day it was the Jews and the Greeks who sought proof. The modern day “Jews” are the “follow the science crowd.” Science is their god with the answers to solve problems except science is not God, but was invented by God as such. This is the “I’ll believe it when I see the results” group. As we have discovered, the scientific facts aren’t always true. Finally, we have the brilliant intellects in love with technology who have no room for God. Religion and faith are foolishness in their minds. The one who controls the technology is in the place of God as we see their attempts to control information.
For these kinds of people, the redemption of the entire creation is irrelevant, pointless, and meaningless. The fact that God, the Creator, would redeem simple, insignificant people like you and me in the world’s eyes, is complete foolishness. We are nothing, nobodies. Yet because of Christ making us right with God through the cross, we are made pure, holy, and freed from sin because Jesus accomplished it on our behalf. The events of this week changed the course of history and the universe for those who receive him. No debate.
Music: “My Song Is Love Unknown” Sylvia Burnside New artist.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOEjZb-rHc0 Beautiful voice!!!
My song is love unknown, my Savior’s love to me,
love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be.
Oh, who am I, that for my sake
my Lord should take frail flesh and die?
He came from his blest throne salvation to bestow,
but man made strange, and none the longed-for Christ would know!
But oh, my friend, my friend indeed,
who at my need his life did spend!
Why? What hath my Lord done? What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run, he gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
themselves displease and ‘gainst him rise.
Here might I stay and sing; this story so divine,
never was love, dear King, never was grief like thine.
This is my friend, in whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend!
O merciful Father, who in compassion for Thy sinful children didst send Thy Son Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world: Give us Grace to serve one another in all lowliness, and to enter into the fellowship of his sufferings, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit one God, world without end. Amen. ―Book of Common Worship