The Foolishness of the Cross

 COPYRIGHT WARNING

The Cross of Jesus is not what you might expect

As a result of my writing in presenting Jesus Christ as the Messiah and only Savior of the world, I have had the opportunity to converse with many who are atheists. On occasion, I have been informed that most atheists are “highly educated.” The inference is made that since a person has attained a high degree of education, they are better able to discern whether or not God actually exists. The assumption by those who claim that there is “no evidence for God,” is that if God did in fact exist, intelligent men could discover Him by their intellect.

This is an interesting perspective of the atheist. Although they claim to be the possessors of wisdom, they seem to have missed an important point: If God exists, then He would be the source of all wisdom and knowledge. His purposes and methods for revealing Himself, would not necessarily be the ways in which man would expect. He just might determined to present Himself veiled in a method that only the humble could discern.

In choosing to reveal Himself in this manner, God would destroy the wisdom of man and place all men on equal footing. Only those who would seek God in humility and with a sincere heart, could find Him. This is the primary reason that the poor find it so easy to discover God. They do not have the barriers of pride, possessions, education, and self imposed righteousness. The poor simply come to God, looking for truth and searching for Him with all of their heart–earnestly desiring to know Him. In this manner—they find Him.

The Bible describes the Creator of the Universe–coming to the Earth in the form of a tiny baby. In modesty and without pretentiousness, Jesus came to Bethlehem. Born to a poor family and living the first 30 years of His life in total obscurity. If God wanted to reveal Himself by intellect, He would have sent Jesus to the leaders of Jerusalem as an academic, or great and powerful political leader. Instead, Jesus came in deep humility and laid down His life for all human beings. He never resisted evil men, their false accusations, nor their desire to put Him to death. Jesus willingly offered up His life because there was no other way that man could be saved.

True knowledge comes by revelation from God, not human wisdom.

Those who believe that God can be know by their wisdom are mistaken. It was by the foolishness of the cross that God would confound the wise and destroy the wisdom of men. Isaiah wrote: “who has believed our report?” That God would die for sinful men, impossible. That One man could remove the sins of all other men, incomprehensible. That a man could obtain eternal life by doing nothing more that turning from his old sins and receiving Jesus as his Savior—Incredible, but true.

How could a transient being, understand a transcendent being? Can a mere man, whose life is but a vapor, comprehend the Creator who is eternal? Paul wrote in the book of Hebrews that God has is the past, spoken to the world—through the prophets, but in these last days, He is speaking to us one final time—through His Son.[1]

We are from earth; He is from heaven. We began our existence when He created us; He has no beginning and is eternal.

The mistake that many people make in seeking to explain who God is, or to deny that He exists, is that He has made certain that no one could know Him or how He operates the universe by their intellect.

True wisdom

The reality is that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contains the wisdom of the ages and can only be understood by first coming into a deep and personal relationship with the God who made all things. This relationship is only possible by the one whom God has chosen to be the intermediary between Himself and all mankind—the Messiah.

Once a person has come into this new relationship with God and all of their sins have been dealt with and removed, the Bible becomes an entirely new source of revelation. God will hide His truths from those who think themselves wise while they ignore His imperative call to have their sins dealt with by the Messiah’s sacrifice. God cannot be known nor understood by human wisdom apart from the proclivity of salvation.

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

This is why for some people, the message of Jesus’ cross is an intellectual impossibility. It makes no sense and it appears “foolish.” This is precisely the reason that God chose to reveal Himself to the world by the death of His Son on a Cross—to eliminate the wisdom of men who think that all knowledge of the universe can be understood by education and human intellect.

1 Corinthians 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

God chose the foolish appearance of the cross as a way to display His great wisdom. By the simple message of the cross, all the wisdom of men is obliterated.

The supposed foolish message of salvation by the death of Jesus was sufficient to manifest the weakness of man’s intelligence and show that he is incapable of knowing God by human knowledge. The purpose of this was to preclude any person from being able to claim that they had a role in their own salvation. Salvation is of the Lord, from start to finish. All that any human being can do is hear it, believe it, and live it.

According to the Bible, God has manifested Himself through the person of Jesus Christ, and He cannot be truly known by any other way.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.

Our sins had to be placed upon Jesus and transferred from our account to His, in order for salvation to occur. Once our sins were taken by Jesus, He died to pay the debt for those sins and make their removal possible.

One might wonder how the life of one man could pay for the lives of all other men. Jesus was not just any man; He is the eternal Creator who made everything which exists—dwelling within the body of a man.

Colossians 1:15-17 “Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the most important above all creation. For by Jesus all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” (RCR)

Jesus took the form of a human being—to become like us, but He is also God. Because of this dual nature, His life has infinite value. The priceless Life of Jesus Christ was more than enough to satisfy the righteous requirements of God to pay the penalty for the sins of all men.

Just as all those who are descended from Adam inherit their tendency towards sin and therefore are sinners, all those who are Born Again in Christ, inherit His perfect righteousness. Jesus became our sin so that we could become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The unseen torture

More horrific for Jesus than the terror of the cross was the fact that He would be separated from the Father. As Jesus took all of our sins, the Father could no longer have fellowship with the Son. This was why Jesus cried out from the cross: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me…” At that moment, Jesus became our sin and His former close and eternal fellowship with the Father was broken. It was not until our sins were fully atoned for by Jesus’ death, and He rose from the dead on the third day, that the Father and Son could once again enjoy the eternal fellowship that they had enjoyed for all of eternity. As Jesus rose from the dead, His former relationship with His Father was restored.

In the garden of Gethsemane on the night Jesus was arrested, He asked the Father if there was any other way that the salvation of mankind could be secured other than for Him to drink from the cup of all our sins and bear them on the cross.

Luke 22:42 Jesus…saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.

The cup which Jesus was referring to was the fullness of all our sins. When Jesus agreed to drink from that cup, He understood that He was going to take our sins from us, and they would become His. The reality of that moment terrified Jesus much more than the thought of actually going to the cross to suffer the physical pain and torture of crucifixion. While on the cross, all of God’s wrath would be poured out upon Jesus, which had been stored up since the first sin of Adam in the garden of Eden.

Jesus knowingly quoted Psalm 22 repeatedly because He wanted us to know that He was the Messiah, the object of the words of Psalm 22. Jesus was claiming to be the person, described by David in Psalm 22, who was crying out to God: My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? When Jesus said those words, it was at that moment that God’s fury was being unleashed upon Him. He was asking the Father how long His wrath would be poured out upon Him and when would it end. For three hours, the wrath of God for our sins continued to be poured out upon Jesus, until finally it was finished and all of God’s wrath had been fully satisfied. It was then that Jesus surrendered His spirit and died.

We can have confidence today that because Jesus took all of God’s wrath for us, there no longer remains any wrath for all those who have placed themselves under the sacrifice that He has made for us. Anyone who repents of his sins and receives Jesus as his Savior has passed from God’s wrath to a place of peace with God. There will be no future judgement for this person because their sins no longer exist.

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

To those who refuse to place themselves under Jesus’ sacrifice by repentance and make a commitment to Him as their Lord and Savior, the wrath of God remains.

John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

Romans 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…

Romans 2:5 “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God…

After reading the account of how much Jesus suffered to secure the forgiveness of all men, is it any wonder that God’s wrath is fierce towards all those who treat His son’s sacrifice as insignificant, or ignore it altogether?

Hebrews 10:28-31 “Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The LORD will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

If there is no repentance and a turning to Jesus Christ during the lifetime of an individual, his decision to reject God’s provision for the forgiveness of his sins is sealed at the moment of death and cannot be reversed. There is no repentance accepted by God after death. There is no prayer that can save a person after the moment of his death. God gives to each individual, one lifetime to decide, either to receive Jesus Christ—or to reject Him. Once death has occurred, there is no possibility of change for a person’s eternal destiny; only a long wait for the final judgment of the individual’s sins as he must stand before God and bear His wrath.

Genesis 6:3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

The Bible does not teach reincarnation, a second chance after death, or any possibility of escape from hell after death, if a person should reject Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…”

The reward for accepting God’s offer of eternal life in Jesus Christ is an eternal recompense in heaven. The penalty for rejecting God’s offer of forgiveness of sin by Jesus Christ is eternal punishment in hell. The reward and the penalty are equal, both being eternal.

The question of eternal punishment being fair is offset by the greater question of eternal reward.

Do any of us really merit the infinite and eternal blessings that heaven represents? Was it fair that Jesus suffered so greatly and was made sin because of us? God has given us an entire lifetime to make our decision either for or against Jesus. It is quite disingenuous to blame God for the consequences we suffer as a result of our own bad decisions. The Lord has done everything that He could to ensure that all of us make it to heaven. It is up to us to exercise our right of choice and make the right decision.

We should understand that our Great God of Love is also a Great God of Justice.

The Lord could not possibly be Righteous if He did not punish sin. It is morally wrong to allow the guilty to go unpunished. At the Cross, the Lord showed to us the ultimate example of Love and Justice together at the same time: We were guilty; God judged our sin by punishing His own Son. In doing this, He maintained His righteousness by carrying out a just punishment for our sins while at the same time, showing us His Great Love.

In God allowing Jesus to suffer for the sins of all men, He was able to establish a righteous basis to forgive our sins. The law of God stated: “the soul who sins shall die.”

Ezekiel 18:4 “Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.

In order for God to be seen as Just, He must do what He has said and punish sin with the death of the guilty. God did not overlook man’s sin; He punished it just as He promised. This was accomplished by a provision in the law of God that allowed an innocent mediator to stand in the place of the guilty and take the punishment demanded by the law. We see this established in the Lamb that was offered at Passover and the animals that were brought to the priests in the Old Testament sacrifices. These were shadows of what was to come when God would send His Son to die as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The law of God allowed for a substitutionary death by someone whose life was perfect and had sufficient value to offer it in place of the guilty. Only the perfect, eternal, and Holy life of Jesus was adequate to pay for the sins of the entire world.

In order for Jesus to be qualified as an offering for our sins, first He had to become one of us. Living on the earth as a man, He could not fail in even the smallest point or He would be disqualified as the Savior of the world.

Jesus met all of the requirements set forth by the Old Testament laws of sacrifice.[2] He was the firstborn, a male, without sin, offered during the Feast of Passover, dying during the twilight of the afternoon, and His blood was the covering for all our sins. In this regard, Jesus was fully qualified to be the one sacrifice which would take away all the sins of the world.

By successfully completing the plan of salvation for all people, Jesus fully vindicated God and showed all creation that God is Loving, Merciful, and Just.

Those who criticize the wrath of God that is poured out on those who continue in their sin, do not understand the dual realities of Love and Justice. God could not possibly be loving if He did not punish evil. Sin is a moral defect that is present in all people. It is, however, not natural. We were not created by God as sinners; we became this way because of Adam’s disobedience which he passed down to us and caused our tendency towards wrong moral actions. The Bible calls this moral defect: “sin.”

It was because all human beings have broken the law of God and remained guilty and without excuse that God sent His Son into the word to die for us. In Jesus death for our sins, we see that God has been just in punishing our sins, while at the same time—very loving in allowing us to remain free of all future judgement.

For this reason, the Hebrews prophecies of the Old testament describe the suffering that the Messiah would experience when He took the punishment that we deserved for our sins. Jesus was:

• Abandoned by God: Mark 15:34.
• Born to Die: Luke 2:7, Hebrews 10:5,10.
• The wrath of God poured out upon Him: Romans 5:9.
• Friends abandoned Him: Luke 23:49, Matthew 26:58, Luke 22:54.

Who God is and what He does is a mystery to those who do not know Him.

It is not possible to know God apart from the revelation of Himself that He has made through the pages of the Bible. This compilation of 66 books, written by 40 authors over a period of more than 1,500 years, is intended as a user’s manual for God. Those who believe that God can be know by their wisdom are mistaken. It was by the foolishness of the cross that God would confound the wise and destroy the wisdom of men. Isaiah wrote: “who has believed our report?” That God would die for sinful men, impossible. That One man could remove the sins of all other men, incomprehensible. That a man could obtain eternal life by doing nothing more that turning from his old sins and receiving Jesus as his Savior—Incredible, but true.

How God imparts truth:

It is interesting that the Old Testament describes the actual teaching style of the Messiah. He will speak plainly to those who are earnestly seeking Him; but to those who do not have a sincere heart after God, He will teach by parables. This is the prophecy of Psalms 78:12.

The Messiah will teach by the use of Parables—Jesus taught by Parables; therefore, He is the Messiah.

A Parable is an eternal truth that is hidden in an illustration of something that is well-known and familiar to most people in their everyday life. These commonly understood stories, such as how seeds are planted and grow, hide a truth of infinite value. It was by this method of teaching that Jesus identified Himself as the object of this 125th prophecy.

For the casual listener, the Parables that Jesus taught were perceived as only simple stories. If, however, the listener continued to ponder and search out the deeper meaning, they could discover a spiritual truth that Jesus had hidden within.

A Parable is an earthly illustration of a heavenly truth.

A person who came to be fed or healed by Jesus might listen to the Parables and not give them much thought. There were, however, some who came to Jesus not for what they could receive materially but for riches that were perceived in the deep spiritual and eternal knowledge that Jesus possessed. Paul wrote to the church at Colosse, that hidden within Jesus are all the treasures of all wisdom and knowledge.

Colossians 2:2-3 …Jesus, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

As the parable was spoken, there was a choice to be made—either to ponder the deeper meaning of what was being said or to walk away perplexed and uninterested. It is true of the human heart that when it comes to spiritual matters, most people are really not that interested. When many people hear a story or illustration from the Bible, very often they could care less about the deeper meaning. For some who have a genuine heart to know who God is—when a parable or illustration is recited, an earnest desire springs up to understand the depth of the story.

The teaching of Parables is similar to the teaching of Prophecy. Both require an inquisitive mind, teamed with a willing heart, which are both searching for truth.

Everything that can be known about the word of God comes by careful and diligent study. Verses of scripture must be compared with other verses, along with prayer and a sincere desire to know God, through the revelation of hidden truth. In order to understand the Parables that Jesus taught in the New Testament, the object is not to know the word of God, but to know the God of the word.

The Lord reveals Himself to those who diligently seek Him and who honestly want to know Him and have a relationship with Him.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Acts 17:26-27 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…

Those who have a propensity to find God by their wisdom or education, will miss Him. Those who seek God with a heart of sincerity and humility, will find Him. This is God’s plan to reveal Himself to man. It is not the method or design of men, it is the wisdom of the One who made us all and desires to make Himself known in a way that the proud cannot discover.


NOTES:
[1] Hebrews chapter 1
[2] Exodus 12

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