At a time when law courts and judges debate the public display of the cross, we are perhaps shocked by the Apostle Paul’s words that he boasts in the cross of Christ. At a time when even churches and theologians debate acknowledgment of the cross, we are perhaps more shocked that the great Apostle says that he boasts only in the cross of Christ.
Note that Paul might have said that he boasted in the death of Christ. In fact, in his letters and preaching, Paul has much to say about the death of Jesus for us. But Paul says that it is in the cross that he is determined to boast. He boasts in that which is a shame and embarrassment to the world. Paul knows that such talk about a cross is “foolishness to those who are perishing… a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (I Corinthians 1:18, 22). Foolishness and a stumbling block! That’s what the cross of Jesus is to the world. That we can only be put right with God through the death of Jesus on a cross is foolishness to opinion makers. Just ask the people around you what they think about the cross!
But it is only in the cross that Paul will boast. He refuses to boast in any religious accomplishments, any honors won, or dedication in service. Those things count for nothing to Paul (Philippians 3:9).
That was a troubling message for the world of Paul’s day, and a troubling message today. I would like to congratulate myself by thinking that the way to God is through my good works, my dedication, and sincerity. But the Gospel says that the way is through the cross.
The American theologian, S. Lewis Johnson (1915– 2004) summed it up: “One of the greatest things about the cross of Christ is that it cuts us down to size. It lets us know exactly how we stand before God. And all of the human ornament of self-righteousness is stripped away and we are seen to be condemned criminals before God. That’s what the cross means.”
In the cross of Christ I glory,
towering o’er the wrecks of time;
all the light of sacred story
gathers round its head sublime.
– John Bowring, “In the Cross of Christ I Glory“
Soaking in Scripture…
Today’s Andy Moments…