The Cross, A Foolish Message?

March 8, 2020

All Scripture from NIV unless otherwise documented.

18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 1 Corinthians 1: 18 – 19

Have you ever been told that something you really wanted to do was just foolishness? There are those in this world, whether they are a family member, a friend, a neighbor or a co-worker, who in their own wisdom, might think that what you want to do with your life or what you want to be is foolish. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are right.

Today’s world is full of sophisticated technology. It’s a little freaky to me now sometimes when I do a google search or look for something on Amazon and then Facebook starts popping up ads for what I was looking at online. I have even heard that sometimes people just having a conversation about, let’s say, buying a new car, have ads pop up on their phone about what they were talking about. It’s a little more even than George Jetson type of stuff. For many of us, these types of things would have seemed to foolishness, but to the kids growing up today, they are just a normal part of life.
Easter is only five weeks away, and during these next several weeks I want to focus our attention on the message of the cross. A message that some, as Paul stated in 1 Corinthians, would call foolish.

Paul stated quite bluntly in verse 18 that the message of the cross is perceived in two extremely opposite ways. To some it is considered foolishness. To others it is received as the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1: 18 Who is it that Paul said considered the message of the cross to be foolishness? Paul called them “those who are perishing.” They were people who, unbelieving the gospel, rejected the preaching of the gospel which is
focused around the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as the Christ.

The Jews of Paul’s day rejected the notion of a crucified Messiah. To be hung on a tree was a curse according to the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 21: 22 – 23. The Roman people of Paul’s day also rejected the notion of a crucified Messiah. Crucifixion was reserved for those who were criminals, not for those who would be kings and saviors. The Greeks of Paul’s day believed they could find salvation through worldly wisdom and philosophy. So, the message of the cross was simply foolishness to most people, and thus the message of the cross was rejected, and Paul said of those who rejected that message that they were perishing.

The same could be said of many people today. There are those today who believe that the message of a crucified savior is foolish. People are more intelligent today than they have ever been. Some believe that if there is a God, He wouldn’t punish those He created by sending them into some form of eternal punishment. Others simply reject the notion of God period. And if there isn’t a God, then the topics of eternal life and death are irrelevant. Still others believe that if there is a God, He will judge mankind on what they have done in their lives, not on the basis of Adam’s sin or his own sin.
I find it interesting that the Bible says that “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Is it any wonder that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who don’t believe?

On the other hand, Paul said that this same message is “the power of God” to those who are being saved. In other words, the message of the cross is a message of wisdom which leads to salvation. Paul wrote in First Corinthians 15 concerning this message of the cross, which he called the gospel; “By this gospel you are saved if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15: 2 – 4

In Romans 10: 13 – 14 Paul wrote: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
You see it is the message of the cross as preached in the gospel that has the power to save. Nothing else but Christ crucified, buried and risen from the dead. But not everyone will believe. In verse 16 Paul continued, “But not all the Israelites accepted the good news.” Romans 10: 16 And the same is true of the Gentiles. Not everyone who hears the message of the cross will believe.

As we turn back to 1 Corinthians, we find that Paul continued his argument concerning the superiority of the foolishness of the gospel to worldly wisdom. In verse 20 Paul asked; “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

I think Paul was saying that when it comes to the message of the gospel, you aren’t going to find salvation in worldly education and wisdom. No, salvation is found in that which intelligent men call foolishness.

Worldly wisdom rejects God. In Romans 1: 18 – 20. Paul wrote: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

You see, worldly wisdom suppresses the truth about God. But the foolishness of the Gospel reveals to man the power of God unto salvation. Christ crucified is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to all who accept the foolish message of the cross, it is the power of God to save.
Then Paul said something that we all need to pay attention to. He wrote, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” Verse 25 Let me repeat that: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of God I want to know and love and serve. I want to believe in a God whose foolishness is wiser than mankind’s wisdom. I want to serve a God whose weakness is stronger than man’s strength. For far too long people have tried to put God in a box and make him what they want Him to be. But God exists outside the box. We can’t even begin to perceive all there is to know about God. But that’s not important right now. What is important is the message of the cross.

In just a few short weeks we will celebrate Easter. As Christians we profess a faith in a Savior who willingly died on a cross to pay the penalty of our sins. But that wasn’t the end of the story. On the third day, He rose from the dead conquering both sin and death. Sin is the death nail for all of mankind. Paul said in Romans 6:23 that the penalty for sin is death (eternal). But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ His Son. How do you obtain that gift? You receive it by believing the message of the cross. It is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to those who are being saved.