Wednesday, June 11, 2014

1 Corinthians 1: The Power of the Cross


1 Cor 1:17-31 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

For Paul, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel of "Christ crucified" -- not just Christ the Teacher or Christ the Victor but Christ the Crucified Saviour and King. The message of the cross is the stumbling block to the Jews whose salvation is based on self-righteousness and is foolishness to the Greeks whose salvation is based on human wisdom. But both human righteousness and human wisdom cannot save mankind from the coming judgement because of sin.

The message of the Cross is simple but powerful: "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor.15:3). The human race cannot be saved by religions (human righteousness) or by education (human wisdom) but through faith in what Christ has done at the Cross. For our problem is not lack of spirituality or lack of education but lack of faith. Not faith in self but faith in Christ, "whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption." In other words, having crucified our sins with Him at the Cross, we can now have by faith Christ's wisdom righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

A story is told about a terminally ill rich widower who had a priceless collection of paintings in his house. This man had a young son to whom he willed all his art collection upon his death. The son was taken care of by an old house servant since his mother died when he was still an infant. One day, the father wanted his son's portrait painted by his favourite artist. But before the portrait could be completed, the son met with an accident and died. The father was heart-broken and rewrote his will and wanted all his paintings to be auctioned off. The father soon died and his lawyer executed the father's will. At the auction, the lawyer took out the unfinished portrait of the son as the first painting to be sold. When the buyers booed and shouted they didn't come to buy that painting, the lawyer insisted that the son's painting must be the first item to be sold, according to the man's will. Finally, since no one was interested in the painting, the house-servant decided to bid for it out of love for the son. Then the lawyer announced that the auction was over: "According to the father's will, whoever buys his son's portrait will have everything else in the house."

So it is with Christ: whoever has Christ has everything--the righteousness that Jews failed to achieve though self-efforts and the wisdom that Greeks failed to achieve through education. And the one who "buys" Christ by faith obtain everything else beside--"sanctification and redemption". To have Christ is to have everything else in God's house: "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Rom 8:32).

Father, thank You that in Your wisdom, You have made all of heaven's blessings accessible to us via the Cross of Christ so that whoever has the Son has life. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your comments.