Thursday, 27 March 2014
…but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 1 Corinthians 1:23
This verse is given as a contrast to what was just stated. Taken together, they read –
“For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness…”
Whereas the Jews request a sign and the Greeks seek after wisdom, those who hold to the doctrine of Christ have a different view of a relationship with God. “But” is the contrasting conjunction, “we however preach Christ crucified.” Signs are unnecessary for a right relationship with God. Abraham is the pattern of those declared righteous by faith. He was given a promise which would otherwise seem impossible and he believed. In his belief, God credited it to him for righteousness.
The work of God in Christ is that He would be crucified for our sins, but the Jews were looking for something outwardly great in their Messiah. Surely he would be a grand king, a conquering ruler who would vanquish their enemies. Instead, He was a humble servant who was nailed to a tree. This would be particularly offensive because the law which established them says explicitly, “he who is hanged is accursed of God.” (Deuteronomy 21:23)
Because of the way in which Christ died, as much as anything else, they simply couldn’t believe. Where a sign was expected, a dead man on a tree was displayed. This then became a “stumbling-block” to their understanding of God’s redemptive work. A stumbling-block (Greek: skandalon) is something which trips one up. When one walks and there is a large block in front of them, they walk over or around it. But when there is just a slightly-raised and almost imperceptible bump, it isn’t noticed. Because of this, one trips up because of it. This is what happened with the Jews. They simply tripped over the work of Christ, not seeing it for what it was.
For the Greeks who looked to wisdom as the ultimate goal of existence, the cross was simply foolishness. The body of Christ was crucified and died. How could God’s redemptive plan include something so base, so not mind-centered. Wouldn’t the Christ be able to speak out wisdom that was hidden concerning all things? Wouldn’t He be able to explain why we were here and what our purpose was? If He died as He was nailed to a tree, then obviously He didn’t understand the way to living forever! And if He was dead, then He was gone. The resurrection must be the foolish delusions of His followers.
This is why Christ is rejected by Jew and by intellectual. They are looking at the world around them with presuppositions about how God would do things. But we are men and not God and we cannot fathom what God would do. All we can do is look at what He does and accept His work by faith.
Life application: Christ’s death atones for sin. Christ’s resurrection proves that His death atones for our sin. Have faith in these things and be reconciled to God.
Lord, I love to see Your wisdom displayed in Your creation. Different things bud and bloom at different times so that there is always a supply of food for the creatures of the world. The ice floats so that even in winter fish can swim underneath it in warmer waters. Ammonia becomes Nitrite and then it turns to Nitrate. After that it converts to Nitrogen and off it goes into the air. Everything is balanced so beautifully. What a great, wise, and caring God You are. Amen!