Boasting in the Cross
Jesus, I pause here, imagining myself standing at the foot of the cross and seeing You die there for me.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 1:18—2:5
Christ Crucified Is God’s Power and Wisdom
18 For 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. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
2 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God and the wisdom of God is foolishness to the world.
After more than 20 years of debating with unbelievers, Paul asks (20) (of the Greek academy), “Where is the wise person?” and (from the Jewish synagogue), “Where is the teacher of the law?” (Paul Barnett, 1 Corinthians: Holiness and Hope of a Rescued People). This is God’s great reversal of all that was commonly called wisdom. The Corinthian church has been too easily persuaded by the teaching of these people. The key is that Christ is both the power and the wisdom of God for those who are called (24).
The Gospel of the cross of Christ, preached even in weakness and through suffering and pain, is the vehicle for the call of God to his people in every age. And just who are these people? Are they the high and mighty, wise by human standards, influential or noble by birth? Well, a few may be (“Not many of you”; 26), but on the whole God delights to choose the weak and lowly in this world’s eyes—and even some who are despised—to lift up as a display of his wisdom and grace.
I visit a drug rehab unit occasionally to teach in their school of ministry. I love their morning devotions as these ex-addicts pour out their gratitude to God in worship and prepare to serve him with such passion. Together, we make a royal procession—of those who have heard the call of the Gospel and said “yes” to what the world calls foolishness. Paul is consistent in his preaching of the cross. He eschews the acclamation of the Christian hierarchy of his day (such as it is). His words may never impress some anyway, but there is a demonstration of power in his teaching that certifies his apostolic authority in Corinth and beyond.
The Gospel reveals a bias to the poor and dispossessed. Would such be welcome in your church? Pray for
the work of those who reach them with the Gospel.
Lord, allow me to understand that intelligence is not as important to You as wisdom.