Offensive
April 10, 2020, 8:00 AM

1Corinthians 1:18-25 (NLT)

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 19 As the Scriptures say,  “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”  

20  So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. 22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. 23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.

24  But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

Offensive

I don't know if you have noticed, but people today are easily offended.  They get upset about what you say, what you do and what you wear.  Sometimes it's justified, because people can be rude and offensive once in a while.  Other times, people offend accidentally.  I've been known to do that; I can be pretty clueless now and then.  Much of the time however, it seems that people make up things to get offended about.  Today, we are going to look at something truly offensive.

The cross of Good Friday is totally offensive.

We call it Good Friday, but it is in celebration of a very offensive thing.  What happened on the cross is not polite, it is not nice, it is actually quite absurd.  For 2000 years, people have been offended by the crucifixion of Jesus.  It is foolishness to most.  The whole thing is just nonsense to the human mind.

In 1Corinthians 1:18-25, the Apostle Paul says that all sorts of people see the cross as foolish and offensive.  Philosophers, scholars, Jews, Greeks, Gentiles, wise people and intelligent people are all called out. 

Good Friday tells us that one of God's most important interactions with humanity is the brutal killing of an innocent man ... foolishness!  

God coming as a man to suffer and die ... completely illogical.

The Jewish Messiah becoming cursed for us ... totally offensive.  

God being overpowered and outsmarted by a murder plot ... ludicrous.

The cross of Good Friday wasn't just offensive in Paul's day; it is still preposterous and foolish to people today.  We are going to look at a few ways that the cross still gets people "out of sorts."  It is offensive to your neighbors, your friends, and maybe even to you ... if you take an honest look.

The cross of Good Friday is violent

Civilized people don't like violence.  On Good Friday, we commemorate the brutal execution of an innocent person.  That just doesn't seem right now, does it?  Jesus went to a mock trial, was tortured, convicted dishonestly, and killed in the same manner that traitors and murderers were killed.  The crucifixion was not a quiet, peaceful death.  It was not death with dignity.  It was public humiliation and agonizing pain.  It was very violent.

The main focus of Good Friday, of Christianity itself, is the suffering and humiliation of our God.  It just doesn't make sense.

Sometimes we like to point out the bad people that took part in Jesus' crucifixion.

Those Pharisees are evil murderers.    That Judas ... traitor!

That Pontius Pilate, he is a bad man.    Those gambling soldiers, horrible people.

Those statements have some truth in them, and it is certainly less offensive to blame the people involved in the violence against Jesus.  But it is much more offensive when you look at the bigger picture.

God is the one who set this violence in motion.

We learn in Isaiah 53:10 that ... it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him

When Jesus was praying before his arrest, he asked the Father if there was any other options.  But it was the Father's will that Jesus be executed.  Jesus, God in the flesh, willingly submitted.  It happened because of God's initiative and Jesus' obedience.  

Way back when humans first rebelled. God let it be known that his promised one would see violence.

God is the one who said beforehand that if humanity sinned, it would bring death.  Sin requires bloodshed.

He taught his people about this by having them make animal sacrifices for hundreds of years.  That's not politically correct for sure.

Sin brings death.  Death means violence.  While it is humans who initiate the sin, it is God who initiates the violent response to sin.  He is the one who started it.  He is the one who sent Jesus to the cross.

It is much more enjoyable to talk about God bringing pleasure ... God being a nice guy.  Much more palatable to think of God as one who hates all violence and would never initiate something like this.

But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush Jesus.  It was his idea all along.  It was his plan because he knew that you and I could not stand in the face of death.  We could not survive the violence we deserve.  We could not make it through the consequences we have coming to us.

It was God's good plan to pour out his own wrath on Jesus, so that we could be spared.  Rebellion against God leads to inevitable destruction ... and Jesus was destroyed in our place.  But that is an offensive idea to someone who thinks that they can make it on their own.  When a person still believes that they can become wise enough, learn enough, perform well enough or become good enough on their own ... the violence of the cross is foolish.

The cross of Good Friday is intolerant.

We hear almost every day about the need for us to be tolerant.  On its face, it seems fine.  If tolerance meant allowing other people to believe what they want without attacking them, that would be great.

Of course, tolerance has come to mean the opposite.  It has come to mean that you will be attacked, unless you believe a certain prescribed set of ideas.  But that is not what people claim they believe.  Our culture just loves to believe that it is tolerant.

And the cross is not tolerant.  The cross shines a spotlight on God's intolerance for sin.  The cross shows that sin is not excused.   Sin is not overlooked or ignored.  It is not tolerant to declare that sin requires bloodshed.

Rebellion against God is so serious that it deserves the death penalty.  God told humanity that sin would lead to death.  The first act of the rebellion wasn't murder, theft, or the abuse of an innocent person.  The first act of the rebellion was disobeying a direct command of God to not eat from a specific tree.  The death penalty was introduced, just like God promised.

God does not tolerate sin, and the cross puts a spotlight on that.  That is quite offensive to some.  If you believe that you can achieve goodness on your own, the cross is too intolerant for you.  If you believe that everything will be just fine as long as you don't murder or do some heinous crime ... the cross is foolishness for you.

The cross is not very flattering.  If you take an honest look at what was done there, it shines some light on you how helpless you are.  It seems like foolishness to those who don't believe they need it.  God initiated the violence of the cross, because our sin required it.  That is quite offensive to someone who trusts their own goodness.

The cross of Good Friday is exclusive.

This one really offends people.  

"There must be some other way."  

There must be multiple ways."  

"I HAVE to be able to make my own way."               

Nope.  The cross is the only way.  Jesus is the only way.  How insulting it is.  

No, human, you can't make your own path to God.

No, you can't just choose your own God to worship ... if you want your God to be real.

No, all religions are not saying the same thing.

There is certainly an inclusivity to the cross.  It is inclusive in that it offered freely to all people groups.  Nobody is excluded based on their ethnic or national origin.  But he cross is very exclusive in that the benefits are only obtained by a specific group of people.

On the cross, Jesus paid the death penalty for sinners.  But, his actions are only credited to those who place their confidence in him.  The only way to be pardoned is by putting 100% of your confidence in him.  It is exclusive to those who trust him. 

Verse 18 says, The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction!  But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.

Destruction vs being saved.  The saved part is exclusively for those who trust him.

Again in verse 21, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.

Not everyone benefits from the cross, it is exclusive to those who believe what God says ... to those who entrust themselves to Jesus as the only way to be made right with God.

It is foolishness and offensive to everyone else who really looks at it.  But to those called by God to salvation Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

When you take an honest look, there really are only two choices.  Be offended, or be overwhelmed with the amazing grace of God.  Hold on to human wisdom, or trust that his foolish plan is wiser than anything man can dream up.  Trust yourself, or completely abandon yourself to one who proved he is worthy of your trust.

I hope you will continually make the right choice.  The temptation is so strong to think that we can make it without help.  We want so badly to be able to measure up.  We want to be good, strong, or smart enough ... but we aren't.  None of us could stand if we get what is coming to us.  The news of Good Friday is that we don't have to get what is coming to us.  Jesus took it for us.

Trust him.  Allow the foolishness of the cross to become your greatest wisdom.  Allow the weakness of Good Friday to become your strength.  And allow the offensive message of the gospel be the most important thing in your life.