The Foolishness of the Cross – 1 Corinthians 1:21

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. – 1 Corinthians 1:21 NIV

The Greek culture, much like ours today, placed a high value on wisdom. The highly educated were respected and held in honor. They were, and are, generally the problem solvers who understand how the world works and how to harness it to humanity’s advantage. So what Paul has to say in verses 18-31 of this chapter was surely unsettling to this Greek church who seemed to be overly in love with the wisdom of this world.

To be clear, Paul is not against the world’s wisdom, at least in general terms. But he is clear that the wisdom of this world will never bring a person into a saving relationship with God. We cannot think our way into heaven. And that is apparently by God’s design. The whole idea of a crucified messiah was offensive to Greeks, as well as to the Jews. In the 1st century, the cross had the same connotations as the electric chair does for us today. How many of us would be willing to wear a miniature electric chair around our necks? Or install one at the front of our sanctuaries? And yet, of all the ways God might have chosen to reconcile humanity to himself, he chose the foolishness of the cross.

God, in his wisdom, determined that man, in our wisdom, would never find him. Is is only through believing in the foolishness of the cross, of Christ crucified, that we can be saved. And so for us, the cross, this bloody symbol of death, symbolizes the power of God.


Three Crosses – John 19:18

There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. – John 19:18 NIV

When Jesus is crucified there are two others crucified with him, one on his right, and one on his left. Was there some significance in having one criminal on his right and one on his left? Since all four gospel writers saw fit to include this detail, it would seem to have some importance. But none of the gospels give us a reason for it.

In Matthew 25: 31-46 Jesus tells a parable, and in it he divides people between his right and left hands, with those on the right entering the kingdom and those on the left cast into hell. In Luke 23:39-43 we find that one of the criminals crucified with Jesus repents and is saved, while the other remains lost. Can these passages teach us something about the other crosses?

Jesus hangs on the middle cross, the cross of atonement and redemption. Could it be the the cross on his right is the cross of repentance, and the cross on his left is the cross of perdition? In a sense, we are all going to encounter Jesus at the cross. But will it be in repentance resulting in an eternity with Christ? Or will it be with rejection resulting in eternal damnation?