“Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Imagine someone leading you up a grassy hill to a place where people are gathering to watch a crucifixion. Three men are hoisted up on a cross as punishment for their crimes. Your guide tells you that the one in the middle is Jesus of Nazareth and he is there on that cross because of your sins, to die for you, and to save you from the power of sin. What is your reaction?
This message of the cross is a stumbling block to you if you are looking for evidence of Christ’s triumph over sin, because all the evidence on that hill says that Jesus is a failure. He is dying in bitter shame for all to see. It doesn’t look like Jesus is conquering anyone or anything on the cross.
And this message is foolishness to you if you look for wisdom, because you wonder why the man in the middle is any different from those two men beside him. Jesus looks like a criminal who fought against the authorities and lost. How unwise it seems to you that anyone would follow this man who is dying like a criminal. What could he possibly have to offer to anyone? You will never see what Jesus was doing on the cross if you are the kind of person who looks only for signs or only for wisdom.
You need the wisdom and power of God if you will ever see what really happened on the cross. When God works his wisdom and power in you, your eyes will be opened and you will see what no one else can see. You will realize that Jesus is not just dying as a criminal, he is conquering the power of sin and death for you. When you look back to the cross, you will see the wisdom and power of God at work in Jesus Christ as he defeats the power of sin and death so that you can live.
In our culture today, people mock the message of the cross because they hear only senseless violence and shedding of blood. People would rather ignore sin and try to live good lives according to their own wisdom. You will have to resist the wisdom of this culture to receive the message of the cross. But praise God, who reveals his wisdom to those who put their trust in him. He will uncover all the deception of sin and reveal his power and wisdom to you.