Tuesday 03 March 2020

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 1:18-25 Tuesday 3 March 2020

Psalm: Psalm 2:1-8


The cross was the heart of Paul’s message. In rebuking the Christians in Galatia, he reminded them: "It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified!" (Galatians 3:1). Yet the crucifixion was a huge problem for the early Church. Most people thought of it as a degrading and disgraceful death, fit only for the worst criminals. For Jews, it was a sign of God’s curse, through interpretation of Deuteronomy 21:23. It must have taken enormous courage for Paul to make the cross the centre of his message.

In these verses, he keeps coming back to the apparent folly of his preaching. The cross is a stumbling-block, foolishness, to those who do not believe. This enables him to make a sharp contrast between those who believe and those who don’t – you might say, those who ‘get it’ and those who don’t.

Developing this contrast further, Paul explains that there is a complete disconnect between those who trust the wisdom of the world, and those who trust the wisdom of God. He gives examples of those who are wise in the world’s eyes: the scribe, the debater. These people are clever with words, able to twist words to prove whatever they want. Paul rejects this kind of wisdom and does not try to reflect it in his own preaching (v. 17, 2 Corinthians 11:6). He depends instead on the profound wisdom of God. To believe in a crucified Jesus is to enter into a whole new world-view, in which crucifixion is a sign of God’s wisdom, not utter disgrace. For it is the first stage in a process which enables life to be free from sin. Sin has power over life before we die, but when someone dies, sin loses its hold on their life (1 Corinthians 15:55). When death leads to renewed life, that life is free from the power of sin (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

In this new world, our hope is in sharing Jesus’ death, symbolised in our baptism (Romans 6:8), so that we may also share his renewed life which is free from the power of sin (Romans 6:3-4). This, Paul believes, is God’s plan for salvation – and so the cross is the power of God and the wisdom of God.


To Ponder:

  • In today’s world, what pressures do you think lead people to turn away from the cross and see it as foolish or irrelevant to them?
  • How far should the church emphasise Paul’s understanding of baptism as dying and rising with Christ?
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