Are You Upset By the Cross?

Bible Readings for the day: Psalm 91:1-8, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5, 1 Chronicles 19:1-22:1
Meditational Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-24, 2:2
18  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.

22  For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,
23  but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,
24  but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

 2:2  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Are you upset by the cross?  Are you offended by the cross?  People today, believer and unbeliever alike,  don’t understand the full impact of the cross and how the message of the cross was hated and despised in the First Century.  I am presently reading Martin Hengel’s book Crucifixion.  In that book he documents the pagan reaction to the cross.  And that reaction was one of outright hatred.

In our first meditational verse, Paul writes of the “word of the cross,” that is the message of the cross.  Hengel explains the message of the cross and the pagan reaction to it:  “True, the Hellenistic world was familiar with the death and apotheosis of some predominantly barbarian demigods and heroes of primebal times…However, not only did all this take place in the darkest and most distant past, but it was narrated in questionable myths which had to be interpreted either euhermeristically or at least allegorically.  By contrast, to believe that the one pre-existent Son of the one true God, the mediator at creation and the redeemer of the world, had appeared in very recent times in out-of-the-way Galilee as a member of the obscure people of the Jews, and even worse, had died the death of a common criminal on the cross, could only be regarded as a sign of madness.  The real gods of Greece and Rome could be distinguished from mortal men by the very that they were immortal–they had absolutely nothing in common with cross as a sign of shame.” (pp.5-6)

The message of the cross went against everything the First Century world believed in.  And the message of the cross goes against everything the Twenty-first Century World believes in!  By nature I want to believe that I am a good person and that God is pleased with me because of who I am and what I do.

  • The message of the cross is the message that I am a sinner who is under God’s judgment.
  • The message of the cross is the message that I deserve God’s damnation.
  • The message of the cross is the message that God does not want to damn me.
  • The message of the cross is the message that God has done all that is necessary to bring me to himself.
  • The message of the cross is the message that God entered this world as a true human being.
  • The message of the cross is the message that my God in human flesh lived the perfect life I should (but don’t) lead.
  • The message of the cross is the message that sinful humanity unjustly nailed God to the cross.
  • The message of the cross is the message that my God died on the cross.
  • The message of the cross is the message that, in that death, my God paid the full and complete price for my sins.
  • The message of the cross is the message that Jesus did not stay dead but, on the first Easter Sunday, God the Father raised him from the dead as proof that my sins are indeed forgiven and that I have eternal life with him as a free gift through faith in all that my God did for me on the cross.

The message of the cross:

  • I am a sinner.
  • God has forgiven my sins for the sake of Jesus who died on the cross to forgive my sins.

That message will upset me if I believe that I am good, not perfect, but good and God doesn’t need to forgive me.  But I know who I am; I know what I am; I know what I do.  I praise God that Paul chose to “know nothing … except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  For in that message, that message of the cross I find forgiveness, peace and eternal life.

A prayer:  Lord Jesus, thank you coming into this world and taking my sins upon yourself and paying their price in full!  Thank you for the gift of eternal life you have given me.  Use me to bring this message, this message of your cross, to people who need to know your love for them.  In your name I ask this.  Amen!

Should you wish to access Pastor Kerner’s sermon archive, you can do so at https://gslcsuffield.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/sermon-archive-2010-2011/

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 585 South St. (Route 75), Suffield CT 06078 USA  http://www.gslcsuffield.com  Should you wish to support this ministry, you can mail a check to the church.

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