Caiaphas looked at the cross and saw a way to accomplish his political goal. For him, it was a means of getting rid of the pressure from the Romans at the expense of one man. Pilate also saw it from the vantage point of political convenience. He thought that if he would give Jesus over to the Jews, that would silence the mob. Jews saw it as an execution of an imposter, and others as a destruction of their dreams. The Centurion looked at it and said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”.
If you were standing there observing the death of Jesus on the Cross, how would you have seen that event? Would you have seen that event as a divine act of redemption? Would you have seen the death of this carpenter as the perfect sacrifice by a Holy God for the atonement for sin?.
There is no shortage of preaching today, but Christ crucified is obscured or absent in many sermons. A person can attend a church for weeks, months, even years and hear multiple messages of financial prosperity, physical healing, personal success, speaking in tongues, slaying in the spirit, love, building relationships, and many other subjects without hearing one clear presentation of Christ crucified. Many churches have a sincere desire to reach the lost, but they fall into the world in order to reach out to the world. They want to attract the world but the message of the cross is offensive so it is muted in their preaching.
What is the message of the cross? Paul simply calls it “Christ Crucified” (v23). It is the truth of the saving power of God in the atoning work of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ at the cross. The cross was not an accident. The cross was the most wicked evil ever committed by human beings. Caiaphas meant it for evil, Pilate meant it for evil, the Pharisees meant it for evil. But over and above the human wicked intentions, God was at work to bring about good. Jesus died for our sins according to the predetermined plan of God by the hand of wicked men before there was any human sin to die for, God planned that his Son was slain for sinners.
The message of the cross divides people into two groups: heaven-bound and hell-bound. It determines a person’s ultimate destiny. If anyone believes that there is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God and Jesus was truly human, and he died on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for sin, he will be saved. But whoever does not believe is already condemned to eternal hell.
The significance of the cross is not outwardly visible to those who are in the flesh. To them it is foolishness. It cannot be understood by the wisdom of this world. They look at Christians as a bunch of fools who follow a myth of a criminal who died on a Roman cross. The outward appearance of the cross seems to display foolishness, but it is the power of God for our salvation. Without the Holy Spirit taking the scales from our eyes we would never see the truth of the cross of Christ.
The greatest moral weakness of many Christians today is based on the profound desire to be acceptable to the secular world. We don’t want to look like fools. The world hates the idea of the exclusiveness of Christ. With the principle of equal toleration has come the idea that no religion has exclusive claims to truth. When Christians make claims of the exclusiveness of Christ, and the inspiration of Scripture, their claims are often met with anger at such a narrow-minded attitude. So, we lose our courage, and we don’t want to talk, because we don’t want to be seen as idiots.
Becoming fools for Christ
The message about the cross doesn’t make any sense to people who are perishing. But for those of us who are being saved, it is God’s power at work (1 Cor 1:18). Paul says, the foolishness of God is wiser than man, and the weakness of God is stronger than man (1 Corinthians 1:25). The supreme theme of the scripture is the person of Christ and His redemptive work on the cross. If you have Christ, you have everything; and if you don’t, you have nothing. In Him, you will have complete salvation, complete forgiveness, complete victory, complete freedom, and complete sufficiency. Paul sums up the significance of having Christ, “By the works of God you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30).
I don’t want to be a coward who runs when the world is hostile, when the world laughs at me and considers me as a fool. I know I am not perfect, but I want to take the courage to proclaim the message of the cross. I would rather be a fool for Jesus Christ than be crowned with worldly honor. Being a fool for Christ is the greatest honor that a Christian can ever have because this foolishness is the wisdom of God.