I Corinthians 1:28-31: “God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world — what is viewed as nothing — to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in his presence. It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us — our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Why doesn’t everyone believe in Jesus Christ? Think about it, Jesus said all you had to do is believe in Him and you would have eternal life. Why then would anyone refuse to believe in Him? Why would anyone not want to embrace the hope of eternal life as witnessed by the empty tomb?
The answer to this question is what is missed in much of the church today. Each Sunday we proclaim the wonderful truth of the empty tomb, but we rarely talk about the cross. We mention the cross, it is our symbol of faith, we sing about it, but do we really understand it?
We have forgotten that to enter the promises of the empty tomb – we must go through the cross.
The cross is what Paul is referring to as insignificant and despised in the world. In fact, it is viewed as nothing but a symbol. The practical application of the cross is much of a foreign concept. The Jews stumbled over it because it was only reserved for criminals and was seen as the curse of the Law. The Gentiles stumbled over it because to them it was foolishness and beyond their intellect and reasoning. Yet, to Jesus and to the Apostle Paul it was the central theme of their message!
- “Then he began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke openly about this. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning around and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.” Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it. For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life? What can anyone give in exchange for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:31-38 CSB
Jesus told His disciples that He would have to go through the cross to fulfill the Father’s plan of redemption. Peter rebuked Jesus. Why talk about such things when you are the Son of God? Jesus’ rebuke of Peter, and His call to those who He was teaching, says it all. Without the cross there is no salvation. If we are ashamed of the cross, then we are ashamed of Jesus. If we reject the cross, then we reject Jesus. You cannot believe in Jesus without picking up the cross.
This is where most of the misunderstanding comes. What does it mean to pick up your cross. Jesus made if very clear. It means that we must deny ourself. We must lay down not only our sin, but also our strengths. We must see that everything we are trusting in apart from Jesus Christ is but filthy rags. Our religion must be laid down. Our intellect must be laid down. Our pride must be nailed to the cross.
We must come to Him first to die, before we can come to Him to live.
Today, many want to live and receive the benefits of the empty tomb, but they do not want to die. They want to have Jesus and …. (fill in the blank). They are not willing to lay everything down in order to follow Him. Our churches today are filled with rich young rulers who have been given a false assurance of salvation without the cross. It is a very serious situation and condition. We must go through the cross to enter into the empty tomb! Paul emphasizes this point,
- “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. For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 CSB
When I was 18 years old I knelt on the floor of my apartment and cried out to God. I surrendered everything to Him. I embraced the cross. And in the cross of Jesus Christ I found the wisdom of God. And it is the cross that I still cling to today. I am nothing without Jesus Christ. He is my wisdom, my redemption, my sanctification, and my peace. Each day I must die anew so that I can live. I must cling to the old rugged cross. It is the cross of Jesus Christ that is my victory. It is only because of the cross that I have eternal life through Him!
Jesus did not say, “It is finished!,” when He walked out of the empty tomb.
Jesus said, “It is finished!,” when He hung upon the cross and paid the full penalty for our sins.
And when we embrace the cross of Jesus Christ our life begins.
Lord, this morning I run to the cross! I will cherish the old rugged cross until the day I stand in Your presence. Through the cross I am crucified to the world and my sin – and yet I live! My life is forever united with Your death! My resurrection is forever united with Your life!
In Jesus Name!