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1 Corinthians 1:18-31

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 …

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. (verses 18, 21-25)


Wisdom and foolishness. Power and weakness. The world, including Jews and Gentiles, wants the first item in each contrasting pair – who wouldn’t? Meanwhile, the message of the Gospel has an appearance of weakness and foolishness that belies its potent efficacy. The world is in danger of missing out.

At the centre of this passage we find that Jesus himself embodies “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (verse 24). Could there be any higher standard of measure? The One who spoke all universes into existence, whose thoughts are beyond our comprehension, is the absolute definition of both power and wisdom. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth … His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40:28-29).

But it is so easy for the world to miss all this when it approaches the cross of Christ. Rather than power, the cross seems to be the epitome of powerlessness, indeed shame. And foolishness? Well, when it comes to launching a cosmic rescue mission, on its surface the cross seems only an ill-conceived dead-end.

Jews remember their heritage flowing from the signs and wonders of the Exodus from Egypt. How could the cross possibly compare? And Greeks proudly uphold their legacy of philosophical brilliance, ever seeking higher attainments of wisdom. How could the cross even think to compete?

And yet, what appears at first blush to exude foolishness and weakness, turns out instead to reverberate with the incomparable power and wisdom of God. The fruit speaks for itself. The cross of Christ effectively brings about salvation – it is able “to save those who believe” (verse 21). Elsewhere Paul will say, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), which lays bare the extent and depth of humanity’s crisis – “all” need salvation. But then, with a further stroke of the stylus, Paul completes the thought: “and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). He's speaking of the cross. It turns out the rescue plan is brilliant, with enough power and potency to save all who believe.

Such is the wisdom and power of God. Beyond expectation. Who could have seen it? Who could have thought it? Who could have exerted such saving power? No one. Except, “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Praise his name.


Praise you, Lord Jesus, for the saving power of your sacrificial death. I rejoice in your wisdom. I embrace your gift. Your rescue plan is accomplished. I say, “Thank you,” once again.



Here’s another hymn to carry with you this day: When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride


Photo by Gianna B on Unsplash

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