How would you save the world if you had limitless power? Would you eradicate all illness? Would you show up in intimidating power? Would you create educational programs? Eradicate poverty? Eradicate hunger?
In First Corinthians chapter 1, the apostle Paul addresses the power of God expressed in providing salvation. And it is so radically different than what we might expect, that Paul actually identifies that most of the world will see the message as foolishness. ‘Surely God would not save in THAT way!’ says the world! What a foolish and silly message.
You see, the power of God toward rescue and salvation is expressed in the cross of Jesus Christ. A crucified Messiah is the expression of the strong arm of God being flexed before all the nations. And the nations rock with laughter and derision at this message! “How foolish” they cry.
The Jews set their sights lower at a lesser enemy. They misdiagnosed the problem just like many of us. They thought the problem was oppression. If they could just be free to express their own religious activities without interference, then they assumed that they would be fine. They underestimated the problem of sin.
And the Greeks diagnosed the problem wrong as well. They thought that a lack of knowledge, wisdom, and education was the problem. They were expecting a breakthrough in wisdom that would usher in a utopian society where everyone would live in peace and security. They underestimated the problem of sin.
Why not come in power establishing His Kingdom with mighty acts of military dominance like the Jews expected? Why not come and educate all with such strong enlightenment, that humanity achieves a higher level of society and wisdom as the Greeks expected?
And what we get is a simple wooden cross, on which the Son of God died. And God has unleashed his power against our greatest enemy there. The cross is powerful precisely because it puts down the central problem of sin, for all who trust in this sacrifice.
God in His wisdom has not underestimated the problem of sin. So he sent forth His only Son, the Son that He loved, to face down sin and death FOR US. The cross can only look foolish to those who do not understand the ubiquity, tenacity, and severe consequences of our sin that amounts to rebellion against our Creator.
Why the cross? The cross is the manifestation of the wisdom and power of God to rescue and save sinners from eternal death. The cross is the idea of God to save. The cross is the only hope for individuals, but also the only hope for our societies. The cross is God’s answer to our deepest enemies and our deepest darknesses.
You should be glad that I am not in charge, because I would give you and all of us tons of things that we think we need, while missing the things we actually need. God in His infinite wisdom, has diagnosed our problem correctly. And in the cross He has expressed His power and might to rescue and save. To many this is a message of foolishness, but according to 1 Corinthians 1:24, to those who are called, Christ and His cross become the wisdom of God and the power of God.