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March 26

1 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
I Corinthians 2:1-5

The Apostle Paul and the other apostles were doggedly determined to make the cross of Christ the crux of their message. In all of Paul’s preaching and teaching he had decided to know nothing except “Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” From the very beginning the cross has been the crux of Christian faith though it has always been reviled by some.

Early antagonists to Christianity mocked the Christian Good News for being about a “criminal man and his cross.” The second century defender of the faith and theologian, Justin Martyr (A.D. 103-165), noted “The offense that was caused to the sophisticated citizens of Alexandria and elsewhere by the madness of the Christian proclamation of a crucified Christ.” And today there are some, even in religious circles, who dismiss or ridicule the Gospel of the cross as quite beneath them.

The English churchman, John Stott (b. 1921), has written of the cross: “So far from offering us flattery, the cross undermines self-righteousness. We can stand before it only with a bowed head and a broken spirit. And there we remain until the Lord Jesus speaks to our hearts his word of pardon and acceptance, and we, gripped by his love and full of thanksgiving, go out into the world to live our lives in his service.”

The cross has always been an affront to pride as it reminds us that we are lost, unable to make our way back home, and in desperate need of a savior. Someone once remarked on how very humbling it is to have been died for. Yes, the cross does humble us, brings us to our knees, and yet the cross speaks to us of unspeakable grace and redeeming love. It is God’s big plus sign for us all!

If there were some way that we might be good enough, wise enough, determined enough to put things right with God, then God made an incalculable mistake in giving his only Son on the cross to make things right.

The confidence of Paul, and the other apostles rested not in their persuasiveness or cleverness, but in the transcending power of this simple message about a man on a cross. Sometimes in our churches and lives we are tempted to rely on our own wit and wisdom and the supernatural power of the message of cross is lost. No wonder Paul was determined to “know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).


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