The message about the cross doesn’t make any sense to lost people. But for those of us who are being saved, it is God’s power at work…
Jews ask for miracles, and Greeks want something that sounds wise. But we preach that Christ was nailed to a cross. Most Jews have problems with this, and most Gentiles think it is foolish. Our message is God’s power and wisdom for the Jews and the Greeks that he has chosen. Even when God is foolish, he is wiser than everyone else, and even when God is weak, he is stronger than everyone else. Â Â Â 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-25 (CEV)
Gruesome, humiliating, and very public. All these words describe the act of crucifixion that was practiced not just by the Romans but other empires possibly as far as Japan. While most paintings of Christ’s crucifixion depict Him covered with loincloth, that is historically thought to be incorrect because being publicly executed naked would have been more humiliating. The primary point of this type of execution was to deter other criminals. And this was the method of sacrifice that Jesus chose to submit to (John 10:17-18).
When I read this history, Paul’s words about how â€œfoolishâ€ the cross was to those who lived at this time moved to a new level of understanding to me. The Jews were looking (and still are) for a Messiah that would bring a physical kingdom that would absolutely rule over all others. They would be recognized as God’s chosen people once again. Whether Jew or Gentile, we are still today looking for a â€œnowâ€ kingdom and think it is â€œfoolishâ€ to focus on an eternal Kingdom that is coming â€“ when?
I have been blessed during this Lent season by a book that God brought to Henry and me to publish, The Church Under the Cross by William Powell Tuck.
â€œSuffering has always been at the heart of the life of the Church, and that is still true today. Sometimes we want to put sacrifice on the back burner, but we really cannot and be the Church. I am convinced that nothing really worthwhile ever comes about in life without some kind of sacrifice. To serve or reach worthy goals there has to be some sacrifice of time, energy, effort, or money, and sometimes even one’s life.â€
I have been blessed by Dr. Tuck’s book. It is a tool that has had me digging down into what The Cross means to me today. It has opened a new level of revelation as I have read God’s words in both the Old and New Testament. I have cried and I have done â€œThe Danceâ€ (see Evan Almighty movie!) as God has shown me His wisdom and power in this sacrificial act on The Cross.
I cannot proclaim myself a â€œservant like Jesusâ€ unless there is sacrifice involved. I have a â€œbrother from another motherâ€ named Greg who also writes a daily blog/devotion, Greg’s Watering Hole. He has shared frequently his struggle to give of his time vs. writing a check so he can still go fishing or do whatever he wants to do. I have been blessed and convicted by his words! This is what Lent is truly all about! It isn’t giving up chocolate (which I don’t need any time of the year!) but it is about sacrificing my way and taking God’s way where there is abundant wisdom and abundant strength for every day. I can never out-give my LORD.
I am going to take up my cross and follow Jesus. What about you?