“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
The power of God. I find that so intriguing. I think everyone is looking for God’s power. It’s all around us really. But somehow, we can hear of it and see it right before our very own eyes and miss it. Can you imagine standing right in front of the cross and missing it? You know, if I had been there that day, I’m pretty sure I would have been there sitting and thinking that all had been lost. Of course, maybe I would have been one of the scoffers. But either way, no one really understood. No one understood until…until the witnesses saw the power of God demonstrated by the risen Savior, the living Jesus Christ who showed Himself to them alive and well and above humanness and death!
So as I was reading 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, I thought on these things that day in 2003. And I prayed…Lord, help my brothers and sisters in Christ and I to be united in the same mind and purpose. Let us guard against quarrels. Teach me to esteem no man over another. You alone are the reason we are who we are. You are the only one who has the right to stand upon a pedestal. Only You were crucified for me. Only You baptized me with the Holy Spirit. Someone may share Your glorious truth and Good News with me, but You alone are the only One who works in my heart.
And help me remember that it is not what I do, but what You do and have done through me. You have not sent me to perform ceremonies, but to announce the Good News. People are not won through the wisdom of my words. That would make my words more important than what You did on the cross. The cross and all that it means is what saves. All I can do is share the Gospel. You will do the work. I need to allow and trust You to do the work in Your time and I must continue to be faithful to just continue sharing the Good News. I can offer the truth but I cannot work in a person’s heart. Only You are able to do that. Even though the Good News seems foolish to those who don’t have You; who are dead in their sins, I know it is the power of God. Teach me that the power is in the truth and what You have done in the cross, not in my wisdom or what I say.
It is the power of God. It’s not about me. I can’t do it. You only ask me to be involved with You, to go where You are or have prepared the way, to follow Your leading. If I don’t see results, I have not failed. I can produce no results. That is only in Your power. I am only to be faithful to share the Gospel and faithful in my testimony.
And that’s true still, even today. But it gets me to thinking about the preaching of the cross and the power of God. See, this preaching of the cross, or “message about the execution-stake” in the Complete Jewish Bible, doesn’t tell everything. That’s coming from that Greek word logos. It’s that same logos that John uses when he tells us “In the beginning was the Word (logos) and the Word (logos) was with God and the Word (logos) was God.” And just going back to that makes me think that understanding the cross goes much deeper than staring at the cross. It takes me back to everything before the cross, everything up to the cross, everything on the cross, and to everything after the cross. The cross is the whole idea, the whole notion, the whole ramification, the whole essence of the person and purpose of You, Jesus.
Just as the Word is the personification of who You are, Jesus, so is this idea of the preaching or message of the cross. How can I look at just one instant and ignore all else that You are? But this one instant is the culmination of all Your love, all Your sacrifice, all Your faithfulness, all Your judgment brought to its most visible head, its most apparent demonstration for those with dull eyes and dull hearts to see. But if we look at this moment without seeing what came before and what came afterward, we’re left with a foolish, weak man on a cross. But, when I see the Word from before time began, Who has stepped out of heaven to restore the broken relationship with man through the greatest of sacrifices, the Word who will bring all things to order, the Word who no one can kill, because He is the Word, then it is no longer foolishness, but the power of God Himself manifested for me, for us!
The preaching of the cross, the logos, the Word, is in the Hebrew Scriptures. It’s the embodiment of Your divine will, Your divine attributes in the law and the prophets, the healer, the messenger, the “agent of the divine decrees.” You are wisdom personified and the messenger of God. It’s Your divine nature. We see it in creation as You spoke the world and universe into being. Like a word that is made up of putting individual letters together, You pull whatever things need to be pulled together to create and form things of meaning and value and purpose. And the wonder is that before You there was nothing but a void, an emptiness. So that means that when You call forth from You, Your Word, to create, You are taking of Yourself and expressing You in everything You create. Scientifically they say that something cannot come from nothing. So where did creation come from? Where did I come from? Where is my meaning and my purpose?
The meaning and purpose of everything lies in the midst, in the heart, in the Being of the center of the preaching of the cross, in the power of You, God. In Luke 4:4, Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man does not live on bread alone.'” That’s a reference to Deuteronomy 8:3. Listen to the King James Version, “And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.“ What if we really thought about that, I mean, really thought that over?
What would I think about? That everything that comes out of God is with power. Who else can speak a universe into being? And then I have the nerve to treat Your words, God, as just words? Here, You’re telling me that everything, and I mean everything, that proceeds, that flows from, that springs from Your mouth, from out of the Person of You, from out of Your being, gives me life and power to live! These aren’t just words as we think of them. Not at all! This Bible, this Book, these words in this Book, well, they aren’t just words and this isn’t just a book! This is life! No, this is LIFE! Every word is of You. Every word matters. Every word that You uttered carries the power of You in it, from start to neverending finish. I serve a God whose words are alive and active and more powerful than any two-edged sword! This is real. This is true. Your Word is You and as I let Your Word express itself in my life, in me, in my heart, in my thoughts, then I am letting You express Yourself in my life, in me, in my heart, in my thoughts. This is not foolishness. This is the greatest power that ever existed and ever will. This is the preaching of the cross and the power of God. This is my Jesus! This is my God!