Foolishness and Power

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

I have some very disturbing news. And I mean it. This news is so disturbing that it shakes the very depths of me. It cuts through everything in me, and tears me apart. It rivets me, it stuns me, it bewilders me, but it does not surprise me. It shocks me and perplexes me and it almost catches me off guard, but not quite. It annoys me in a way, because I wish it weren’t true. It profoundly changes the whole way I think about life. It disturbs me from the very depths of me. It crushes me and makes me into nothing. It bothers me. And it leaves me speechless. It even hurts me, if the truth could do that. At least, it hurts my pride. And it leaves me humbled and laid bare before the One to whom I will one day give a full account. It shatters and ruins my ego. It abases me and leaves me face down in the mud. It leaves me with nothing to boast of … except, of course, my children, my wife, and everyone who is not me and who is more pure than I am. It shakes all my thinking, and destroys all of my wisdom. It undoes all of my work and renders useless all of my great efforts to accomplish something and be someone. It is, and only ever will be, the cross of Jesus Christ.

This cross was “insignificant” in that it was just “mere wood”. Just a piece of wood. Wood! Would that it had been made of metal, then it would have been something. Would that it had been made of ivory, or topaz, or beryl, or onyx, or some precious metal like gold, silver, or even bronze. But no! It was made of mere, common wood! It was the same type of wood that almost anyone could have produced in that day and age. This wood was not something for nobles and princes to boast of, but it was the same type of wood as was thrown into the fire, and forgotten about. There was no majesty in that wood, nothing to boast of, or to consider important. This was common wood. The wood speaks of us. We are the common people who were vicariously nailed to that cross! It was us, the people of faith, who were nailed to that cross! When he stood there, we stood there! When the nails went through his hands, they vicariously went through us. When the spear went through his side, it vicariously went through us! When he was killed, we were killed! When he died, we died! When he said, “It is finished!” it was finished for us!

His work was complete when he suffered and died on the cross. For that is what he came to do. He came to suffer and to die. He suffered for us, so that we might not have to suffer. He bore our sins on the cross. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) When, by faith, we choose to identify ourselves with him, we become partakers of his suffering and vicariously – because he suffered for us – we are excused and forgiven of all wrongdoing in our lives. It is a choice which he made two thousand years ago, to die on that cross for us (though the choice was made long before that, yet the actual act of suffering occurred about two thousand years ago, yet it was prophesied long before that in Scripture, all the way back in Genesis 3). We now must choose to identify with him. This is the “hard part” for many, because it means a laying down of all of their self-righteousness. But apart from laying down that self-righteousness, there is no hope of eternal salvation, but only what the Bible describes as an endless existence separated from God.

Merry Christmas. And don’t forget the cross. Without it, there is no power. Only perishing.

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)