Sunday, 6 April 2014
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2
“For” builds upon what he has just said, that he “did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom…” In other words, when going to the Greeks who looked for polished speech and fine oratory skills, or when going to the Jews who looked for a competent evaluation of the Scriptures (and being a Pharisee, he could easily provide this), he determined that these wouldn’t be his means of proclaiming Christ. Instead of being caught up in a flashy presentation or in a detailed and hair-splitting study of scriptural subtleties, he would be consumed with the contents of the message itself.
It was Paul’s determination “not to know anything among you.” In this phrase, “to know” is the Greek eidenai. Based on verse 1, he is indicating that he wouldn’t be engaged in or regard anything other than what he had predetermined to proclaim. There would be nothing flashy, there wouldn’t be anything sensational, nor anything without one sole and determined purpose. And that purpose included nothing “except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
In a world which looked for (and still looks for today) eloquence and a composure in oral delivery, Paul overlooked these things. He had a specific message which didn’t need flash. Later in 2 Corinthians 10, it will be noted that his “bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” To him, refining these things for his delivery could only subtract from, not add to, the message. His message was Jesus Christ – the Son of God and the fulfiller of the law. But even more specific, his message was “Him crucified.”
The word “crucified” here is emphatic. The very thing which is “to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness” (1:23) is the same thing that he asserted above all else. Before the cross, all eloquence fades away; before the cross, all wisdom is weighed; before the cross – only before the cross, Scripture becomes clear. Without the cross, nothing can ultimately make sense because without it, sin remains. What Jews overlooked and what Greeks snubbed their minds at and turned their eyes from is the most excellent of all of God’s workings. As Paul says in Philippians 3:8 –
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
Life application: What shames a church isn’t the preacher’s delivery, be he an eloquent orator or a monotone speaker. It isn’t derived from a beautiful presentation of music, order, and intriguing detail from life lessons, or a haphazardly put together gathering. A church’s shame isn’t realized in a small dirty building or a large exquisite cathedral. Instead, it is found in a message which fails to proclaim the cross of Jesus Christ. Every time a congregation meets as a church, if the Person of Jesus Christ isn’t exalted and if the cross isn’t highlighted, that church has failed to glorify God.
Lord, the beauty of Your church is found in the shame of the cross. Keep me, Lord, from being wooed by a peaceful message, an exciting oration, or lively music which fails to proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified. May my heart long for, may my eyes look to, and may my thoughts be centered on Jesus Christ alone. With this, I know You will be well-pleased. Amen.