Updated: Jun 18
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1 verse 25)
One of the earliest pieces of Roman graffiti was scratched onto a plaster wall, depicting a young man worshipping a crucified figure with a donkey head. The Greek depiction translates as “Alexander worships his god”.
For the early Romans listening to the message of Jesus it was all plain stupid. Paul says as much in 1 Corinthians 1 verse 18: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing”. The word ‘foolish’ translates the Greek word moros, from which we get the derogatory word moron. People thought the Christians were morons because of what they believed – as depicted graphically by the graffiti scratching. Only the “scum” of society were crucified. It represented humiliation, brutal cruelty, and a warning to others. How could someone who was crucified be worshipped and trusted for life and eternity?
It’s not changed much today. Christians are often made to feel stupid, out-of-touch, bigoted, completely out of place in a modern society – all because of the “message of the cross” – the message of what Jesus did to put us right with God.
But the recent coronavirus crisis has exposed the dangerous limitations of our self-reliance and our modern society. The fear and the anxiety expose the fact that no-one has any answers to life and mortality. What is life about, is there more than just the here and now? What happens when I die? How can I find peace in all the uncertainty? I can’t work it out by myself. I can’t make sense of it all. I can’t control the situation and all that’s going on.
It was no different when Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “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?” (1 Corinthians 1 verse 20). Who can figure out life? Who’s got the answers? Politicians argue about who was to blame and what should have been done. Scientists try to understand the virus and how to get on top of the situation. We go online to blogs and articles to help us understand anxiety and the “new normal”. But all these don’t provide answers to life - we can’t work it out. But God can. And God did – through the cross. Paul says the message of the cross may seem to be foolishness, “but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”. We thought the massage of the cross was stupid, we thought we had life figured-out. Now Paul’s words ring true: “God (has) made foolish the wisdom of the world”.
Before I became a Christian I saw the cross as just a religious icon – a little bit like a company logo. I had no idea that there was anything else to it. I had no relationship with God and no purpose in life, but I didn’t really see the need for it. It was a real eye opener when I read about crucifixion and what Jesus endured for the sake of people like me. The fact that it was a real-life event - and a gruesome and horrible one – made me think.
The cross was no accident. It wasn’t just that Jesus was misunderstood and rejected and killed as an innocent man – rather through the cross Jesus is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1 verse 24). In other words, there’s something the cross can do that only God could do.
At the cross Jesus paid the price for sin – yours and mine. He made a way for us to be forgiven and put into a right relationship with God. He was rejected so that we could be accepted. He was treated as scum so that we could be treated as royalty. He died so that we could have life. And supremely it shows that I don’t have to try to reach up to God – rather He has already reached down to me.
Foolish? For many the message of the cross will continue to be seen as stupid, and anyone who starts to seriously think about it will be laughed at. But it’s the best news you can hear, and if you trust in what Jesus did at the cross, you will find God’s foolishness is all you could ever ask for.
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength”
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®