<<Is the cross at the centre of your approach to life?>>
When the excavators were working on the Palatine in Rome – the residence of many of the Emperors, they discovered a crudely drawn cartoon on one of the walls. It showed a Christian pageboy named Alexamenos kneeling before a cross – but instead of a man on the cross there was the image of a donkey. The inscription mocks “Alexamenos worships a god”. We don't know who Alexamenos was, but we can be sure he didn't have an easy time being a Christian in Caesar's palace. He was made out to be a fool.
Certain sense in which Christianity is foolish. We see God revealed in a man who was not outwardly successful. Not powerful, wealthy, popular. Yes crowds- crowds deserted him at the end. Died nailed to a cross as a common criminal. And in the weak body of that man upon the cross is the greatest expression of God's power.
FOCUS ON WORD
v18 “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
I personally find this a challenging passage to read. St Paul goes on to question the wisdom of the world.
I wonder what sort of person you are?
- Energised by intellectual discussions. Distilled wisdom. Gripped following argument in a book – can't help chasing up footnotes
- Turned off. Long words. Feel a fool because you haven't had the education/ training others have.
This passage says: In God's kingdom human wisdom counts for very little.
Impossible to get to know God through our own wisdom.
Moment's thought why – If we could explain God by being clever. We would have a God made in our image; rather than us being made in God's image.
v21 “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided through the foolishness of our proclamation to save those who believe... we proclaim Christ crucified.”
Christianity based not on a slick philosophy quick self help scheme. but an event that changed the world for ever.
A man nailed to a cross - event which at a first glance seems absurd.
But which contains the power of God
read v23-24 “we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
stumbling block? Some people look for the wrong thing in religion.
Not an answer to our questions
but a solution to our problems
Night of 14th April, 1912, somewhere in the north Atlantic ocean HMS Titanic.
Cruise liner hits iceberg, Clear that she is going to sink.
Standing on the deck.
“How is it possible that this ship can sink?”
Solution – get into a lifeboat.
Christian faith is not primarily about answers to tricky questions but about God's power to save.
POWER 3 ways
- Forgiveness. Baggage – dump at foot of cross.
- Death defeated. 100% of us die.
- God's unconditional love. Even when we rejected him most fiercely, he loved us most expansively.
Not easy to explain. Ink spilled. Experience them powerfully when we allow ourselves to enter into the story.
Revisit the cross this Lent.
Enter into the story
take one of the gospels. Prepare for communion.
Does your journey go via Calvary?
Rushing past on an express train.
Do we get off the train look stand around in the crowd and get back on the same train
Or do we change trains at Calvary. Knowing that what we have encountered here changes us for ever.
“Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom; do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight says the Lord.” - Jeremiah 9:23-24