Let us pray: Dear Savior, we know that the cross defines Your relationship with us. It proves that You love us, that You were willing to pay for our sins, and that You have taken away all of God’s anger against our waywardness. Today remind us that the cross isn’t just a symbol of some ancient event, but that it contains and conveys power—the power to save our souls. May we glory in its shame. For through the shame of repentance the cross leads us to eternal life. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR CRUCIFIED SAVIOR!
TEXT: I Cor. 1: 22-25
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Today our nation is at war. The enemy has been defined as the fascist Iraqi leadership which seeks to foment terror throughout the globe. It has been defined as those in Iraq who support the terror network that engaged in that cowardly attack on 9-11 and various other attacks on humanity around the world. A year and a half ago after 9-11 our President gave a speech in which he said that those who support or harbor terrorists would be held accountable. This past week some of that account became past due, and war has ensued. After the President’s 9-11 speech I didn’t hear one voice openly disagree with his approach to dealing with mass murderers. But now, when the reality is upon us, some Americans—well-meaning and otherwise—have decided to oppose this war. I find it especially enlightening that many clergy in many denominations have openly led this opposition. And today, I’m sure, many sermons will be preached about the supposed inhumanity of waging war against fascists, terrorists, and murderers. Well, I’m not going to do that! First, because the Bible clearly teaches that political solutions belong to the state and not the church. Second, because the Bible clearly teaches that individual consciences must sort these questions out for themselves by examining the whole counsel of God. And thirdly and most importantly, because God has given you, me, and His Church a much greater task: saving souls by preaching Christ crucified. With that in mind, today:
WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED!
St. Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians about 30 years after Christ was crucified and then resurrected. The world of his day was ruled by Rome. Rome was not a democracy. Its goal was not to bring freedom to the world. No, its goal was to conquer anyone who was deemed an enemy, anyone who might thwart Roman power and dominance. Into this realm Christ was born. God’s Son was born into the Jewish state of Palestine which was under Roman domination. Before Pilate, the Roman governor, Jesus was accused by His enemies of sedition and treason against Rome. But, what did Christ say to this charge? “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
The Jewish nation of the time rejected Christ for many reasons. One of those reasons being He didn’t advocate overthrowing the hated Roman rule. Many wanted a warrior Messiah, who would flash signs from the skies as proof of his conquering power. Instead, Jesus gave them different signs. He healed the sick, cast out demons, gave sight to the blind, and raised 3 different people from the dead. Ultimately, He gave them the greatest sign of all: He raised Himself from the grave! However, sin, unbelief, hatred over having to humble themselves before God—all those things combined to cause the Jewish people to reject Christ. And it is the same today. Christ isn’t flashy enough for most.
Corinth was a Greek city. The congregation there was composed primarily of Greeks. Like most people in Western cultures today, the Greeks prided themselves in their wisdom. They prided themselves in being smarter and more civilized than anyone else. They loved to debate for debate’s sake. They loved to hear themselves talk an issue to death. Like many today, the Greeks believed that humans are basically “good” and if you reason with them long enough they’ll come around to your point of view. So, when Christian preachers began to talk about how people are basically “bad”—sinful, and how they need Godly repentance and regeneration to see the errors of their ways and change, the Greeks were put off by this. They refused to accept that evil cannot be rationalized or “talked to” but must be confronted and opposed just as David confronted the evil giant Goliath. So, for them, the message of God dying on a cross, that God Himself, had to take direct action against evil to save lost human beings, well, to them that was foolishness.
“Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
The message of the cross is enough! It is enough to change people’s lives and to save their souls. The cross shows us that God fought the greatest battle in all of history—both human and Divine—and that He won an eternal victory for lost sinners like us. God died in the person of Jesus Christ, so that our sins would be paid for. God decided to do the seemingly impossible. He triumphed over hate with love. He triumphed over inhumanity with love. He triumphed over Satan with loving self-sacrifice.
Human wars may make the world a bit better for a moment. An earthly peace always eventually results. But human pride and arrogance will always rear its ugly head again. And as a result hatred and rage will propel people to hurt others, to kill others, all to feed their own egos. Human wars can kill the body. But in the eternal balance scale, what’s more important?—The status of your body or the status of your soul?
God’s Church must be concerned primarily with saving souls. For to do otherwise mocks the cross. To do otherwise says that man is wise and God is foolish. To do otherwise says that we are strong and He is weak.
In moments of crisis everyone desires comfort. We desire inner healing. We desire certainty about our future. God the Holy Ghost is called the Comforter. And He brings Godly comfort to hurting souls only in, with, under, and through the message of the cross. At Christmas God embraced our humanity. On Good Friday He proved that He wouldn’t walk away from our weaknesses and failings all of which culminate in death. For on the cross God died for us! He paid our debt of non-love. Only the cross has the power to change human hearts. Only the cross has the power to remake sinners into saints. And it is for that reason that today and everyday: We preach Christ crucified! “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” Amen