Hi everyone. Rob here.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:22-23,
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified…
Have you stopped to think about just how scandalous that statement is??? In a highly status driven society Paul preaches that his Lord and ours, died the most humiliating way possible and that fact is the centre of our faith. Salvation is found in the cross. It is found in God, through Jesus, experiencing the absolute worst of what humans can do to each other. He, the Son of Man, the true human, was subjected to utter dehumanisation. This, for the sake of our humanity.
This is why the cross is a place for the arrogant and the shamed; the victim and the perpetrator; the sinful and the sinned against; because at the cross we cast off all that is coming against our humanity. Jesus takes all of the stuff that stops us from truly bearing the image and likeness of God. That’s also why we have to keep going back there. Every day we are subject to forces that seek to degrade our humanity. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy Jesus tells us in John 10:10 and it’s our humanity that he’s after. He doesn’t want us to bear God’s image. And so we come against hate, prejudice, resentment, unforgiveness, selfish anger, greed and injustice that our world seems to be filled with in increasing quantities, in the name of the cross of Jesus Christ. We die to those things there. Our humanity depends on it.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:27-30).
These words were written to people who craved status but had none. Not many were of noble birth as Paul put it. Status in the world is a fool’s errand. It doesn’t take you to God and that’s all that counts. As Paul puts it in Romans 6:11, it’s dying to sin that leads to being alive to God in Christ Jesus. Jesus died a sub-human death that was designed to keep the slaves in line, and by doing so, he breaks the power of the powerful over us. Death by empire became the means for the coming of God’s kingdom. The empire’s tool of control unleashed the means of her demise. Paul again:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
This Easter, may the cross summon you to die to sin and come alive to God. May those of us who are both victim and perpetrator, sinner and sinned against, proud and shamed, find the restoration of our humanity at the feet of the truly human one who died for us. May his blood cleanse us and set us free and may the grace of God be with you.