1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5
18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved. 19 For it is written,
I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent.
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? 21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached. 22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified,a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, 25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
26 Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. 27 Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 28 God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, 29 so that no one may boast in his presence. 30 It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.
2 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. 2 I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.
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Preparation for Worship
There are a few towering mountain vistas in the New Testament, and this passage from 1 Corinthians is one of them. Paul focuses here on the message of the cross, which he calls “foolishness” in the eyes of the world. It is an utterly foolish message, he says, because it is totally contrary to the message of power and wisdom that the world desires. Rather than a message of a triumphant military Messiah or a wise philosopher sage, we proclaim a message of a weak and abandoned Savior crucified as a political enemy of the state.
Two millennia later, we have grown accustomed to the cross. We have been numbed by familiarity, no longer grasping its scandal. But still this passage calls us to grasp freshly the truly scandalous and offensive message of the cross, and to grapple with its implications.
For Paul, if the message of the cross is true, it changes everything. It turns upside down all the things we take for granted, and calls us to live with a different imagination for all of life. If the message of the cross is true, it means the secret to the universe is something we rarely if ever want to believe: that power is meted out through weakness. If the message of the cross is true, it means we who believe it are called to live a cruciform, a cross-shaped, life.
This Lent, let’s pray that the Lord renews our vision of the cross and how we can live according to it.