The way God works seems silly to those who don’t know Him. For many,
“Why” is the big barrier to a true relationship with God. “Why did this happen?” “Why would God work that way?”
Of course, this is the way children think as well. “I don’t get it” they say. “Why can’t I do X?” they ask. “I don’t understand why you want let me” they protest after we have explained it 10 times. Our decisions seem silly to them.
That what God is doing makes sense to me is a sign that I am on the way to salvation. I am on the road. I must stay focused on what He is doing and not get diverted by what He isn’t. If I stay focused on His wisdom, I will be more than happy.
God’s goal for me is understand His good news. I must deliver that message to everyone I know.
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved. For it is written,
I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent.
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached
Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (1 Corinthians 1:18–21). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
The mention of the cross introduced this long section on the power of the Gospel versus the weakness of man’s wisdom. It is interesting to see how Paul approached this problem of division in the church.
First, he pointed to the unity of the Messiah: there is one Savior and one body.
Then he reminded them of their baptism, a picture of their spiritual baptism into the Messiah’s body.
Then he took them to the cross.
- Crucifixion was not only a horrible death; it was a shameful death. It was illegal to crucify a Roman citizen. Crucifixion was never mentioned in polite society, any more than we today would discuss over dinner the gas chamber or the electric chair.
- The key word in this paragraph is wisdom; it is used eight times. The key idea that Paul expressed is that we dare not mix man’s wisdom with God’s revealed message. The entire section on wisdom presents a number of contrasts between the revealed Word of God and the wisdom of men.
- God’s wisdom is revealed primarily in the cross of Jesus the Messiah, but not everybody sees this. Paul pointed out that there are three different attitudes toward the cross.
- Some stumble at the cross. This was the attitude of the Jews, because their emphasis is on miraculous signs and the cross appears to be weakness. Jewish history is filled with miraculous events, from the Exodus out of Egypt to the days of Elijah and Elisha. When Jesus was ministering on earth, the Jewish leaders repeatedly asked Him to perform a sign from heaven; but He refused.
- The Jewish nation did not understand their own sacred Scriptures. They looked for a Messiah who would come like a mighty conqueror and defeat all their enemies. He would then set up His kingdom and return the glory to Israel. The question of the Apostles in Acts 1:6 shows how strong this hope was among the Jews.
- At the same time, their scribes noticed in the Old Testament that the Messiah would suffer and die. Passages like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 pointed toward a different kind of Messiah, and the scholars could not reconcile these two seemingly contradictory prophetic images. They did not understand that their Messiah had to suffer and die before He could enter into His glory (see Luke 24:13–35), and that the future messianic kingdom was to be preceded by the age of the church.