Thursday 02 May 2019

Bible Book:
1 Corinthians

For 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. (v. 18)

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 Thursday 2 May 2019

Psalm: Psalm 114


The term ‘crazy wisdom’ is popular amongst people in the West looking for alternative spiritualities. For the Jews and Greeks to whom Paul refers in 1 Corinthians 1:23 the proclamation of the cross could be described as crazy. Perhaps, in some ways, we can sympathise with those incredulous Jews and Greeks who could make no sense of a Lord whose power and wisdom is shown in his execution on a cross. It isn’t only them. In both of Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth he writes to Christians who on point after point have failed to grasp what Christian faith is about. He begins his first letter by addressing one of their most fundamental misunderstandings: the nature of the wisdom and the power of God. Two thousand years later, can we claim to have understood any better?

A billboard alongside an American motorway depicts a muscular Jesus. He is flexing his biceps, breaking the arms of the cross, and on either side of the image are the phrases, “You drew first blood” and “I’ll be back". The words are taken from two sets of cult films, the Rambo and Terminator series. Both of these are characters who epitomise the understanding of power by the world which, says Paul, “did not know God”. In a very real sense the message of the billboard is anti-Christ. It is the antithesis of the Spirit of Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 1:17, immediately before today’s passage, Paul shuns the use of ‘eloquent wisdom’. To use it would be to empty the cross of its power. God’s power is seen in neither physical force nor in the ability of clever words to sway an audience. The power and authority of God are not to be seen in the caricature of Jesus on the billboard but in the Jesus in whom we can recognise the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, “despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity …”. This is may not be crazy wisdom but it is the wisdom of the cross.


To Ponder:

  • How often in your experience does the church follow the Corinthians, and the sponsors of the billboard, in misunderstanding the truth about power?
  • How do you understand the statement that “God’s weakness is stronger than human strength”?
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