You Have Been Given The Cross, Christ Crucified

Text:  1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Confirmation Students and graduating Seniors, today is the day that we recognize you for your accomplishments and hard studying. For those of you in confirmation classes you have studied for the past 3 years. For you graduating Seniors you have studied for the last 12-13 years. It is a time for us to rally around you as you journey into a new chapter in your lives. For you seniors, many of you will be moving on from here to various colleges where you will spend another two to four years of studying. For you confirmation students, today you are confirming your faith, sharing what you have learned and will be partaking of the Lord’s Supper with the church body for the first time.
For you confirmation students and you graduating Seniors, you have been given by this church through the scriptures the message of Christ. You have been given a message of Jesus who was crucified, dead and buried for you, for the forgiveness of your sins.

As you all journey in this life, you will come to find the harsh reality that this message of Christ Crucified for the forgiveness of sins doesn’t always ‘jive’ with the culture of the day. Maybe you have already wrestled with this. In other words, the hard reality for all of us to ponder today is that this message of Jesus sometimes is foreign to other people’s ears and many times can challenge our own ears. In our text today the Apostle Paul shares that this message of the cross can be a stumbling block, this message of the cross poses can pose a problem to people’s thinking. For others, they will consider this message of Jesus as simply downright foolish and a waste of time to ponder.

First, let us look at why the message of Jesus is a stumbling block. For many people in our day and age they demand outward signs. In other words, they look for things that triumph. They say, “Show me something amazing, something incredible.” In order for something to be ‘true’ they judge whether or not it is true by what kind of results it will produce. They want results, big results. They demand and want tangible results. If the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so true and so real, then they want to see the proof in the pudding.

This is what the Jews during the days of Paul wanted. In order for Jesus to be the real savior they wanted to be “wowed.” They expected that Jesus was going to shake things up. They wanted Jesus to show signs from heaven and maybe juggle the clouds or make the moon and stars play hide and go seek.

It is no different for us today. As Americans, we want to see things happen. We are a very results driven society. If it doesn’t work, or doesn’t produce the desired result, then it must not be true.
What can end up happening is that we can judge the Gospel on the basis of our own expectations. We look to the results and signs as a way to judge whether or not something is legit. The danger with this is this: just because something does not produce the results that we expect, does not mean that it is not true. Furthermore, just because something produces incredible results does not mean that it is true or good.

Now listen closely, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of Christ dying on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. The sign that Jesus gave to us to validate everything He was about and everything that He said and did was the sign of Jonah, the sign that He would rise from the grave. The cross was a stumbling block to the 1st Century Jewish person and is a stumbling block to many today because it doesn’t “wow” us with glittery, noisy, earth shattering displays of power and might. The cross of Jesus is not a 14 K cross, with fancy flowers on it that shines in the sun and glitters around one’s neck on a gold plated chain. No, the cross is a blood stained mess. Jesus the Messiah, went to the cross and God’s glory was shown as the Savior died on the cross, alone and forsaken by man, saying, “It is finished.” We can easily fail by demanding signs that will suit our fancy and when our demands and expectations are not met we can then fall into the same trap as the 1st Century Jews and stumble over the cross of Jesus.

My friends, you have been given the message of the cross. It isn’t a flashy, glittery message that we can judge by its earthly results and whether or not we are truly impressed by it. No, you have been given the cross, a cross that the scriptures speak of, a cross that proclaims to you that He who knew no sin was made to be sin on your behalf so that you might be given the righteousness of God. You have been given a crucified, bloody savior that spoke confidently on the cross that Satan, death and your sins were finished. Christ, the crucified one, is your savior, he is for you.

Now, there are other individuals in life that will simply reject the cross of Jesus considering it outright foolish. Forget the signs and wonders, they simply write it off. They will look at the cross and according to their rational way of thinking won’t be able to make sense of how the death of a man on the cross means victory. Rationally they reject the cross, saying that victory doesn’t come from defeat and definitely not from a man named Jesus who was rejected, flogged and crucified.

In our world we have systems of processing things. We use logical proof, the scientific method, reasonable arguments and so forth to maneuver and make sense of life. Then comes the message of the cross. The message of the cross simply doesn’t make sense from a rationalistic perspective. It sounds foolish according to a commonsensical approach. “The last will be first. Whoever loses his life will find it. In the death of Jesus you will find life. We don’t ascend to God, He descends to you.” The message of the cross is simply backwards to the way of the world.

The Greeks with all of their philosophy and knowledge simply rejected the cross of Jesus because it didn’t jive with their wisdom. They considered it foolish. It probably was foolish from their perspective, but what they failed to realize was that their perspective could not hold nor process the cross. The issue is not the cross but their lens in which they processed the cross.

What can so easily happen to us is that we try to make sense of the cross according to our reason, our way of thinking and from our perspective. However, the cross was not our idea nor did we participate in this plan of redemption. The cross was God’s idea. It was His mission; it was His endeavor for us. It seems to me that how we make sense of the cross is not from our perspective but as we make sense of the cross from God’s perspective and that happens through us understanding the cross through the lens of the scriptures.

This cross that you have been given here at this church from the scriptures is a message of Jesus and His forgiveness of sins. This message, even though it is a stumbling block to some and foolishness to others, is the power of God unto salvation. To you and me it is the power of salvation. Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

People today don’t all follow the same leaders, but they are easily impressed by human wisdom. We so easily accept everything from the latest scientific report claims. Other times we fall in step with whatever the psychologists are saying this year. Still we can go out and try to follow all the latest spiritual fads and follow those who might have the newest ‘insight’ to live a life with actions and result. We can chase down things that impress us and give our attention to things that exhibit great power and spectacular signs. But what we need and what scripture preaches to us is Christ crucified! This is the foundation of Christianity my friends. This message of the Gospel will absolutely sound foolish and weak in the eyes of many, but the cross and the message of the cross are where we find the true power and wisdom of God. That is where we find our eternal salvation and where our eternal salvation was won.

In Jesus Christ my friends, we who are foolish have been crucified into the wise one Christ. In Jesus Christ my friends, we who stumble have been crucified into the one that stands. In Jesus Christ my friends, we who are week are given one who is strong. The power of the cross that you have been given and receive today is a message that for the sake of Christ your sins are forgiven, the wrath of God has been satisfied, death, the devil and sin have been defeated. In this cross you have been called and chosen. In this cross you have redemption and the promise of everlasting life.

Confirmants and Seniors, you have the cross. Jesus is for you. May you go from here today resting, faithing in and knowing that you have God’s wisdom and power in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Your confidence is in the Cross, not signs or man’s wisdom!