The Cross: Foolishness and a Stumbling Block? - Ron & Nathele Graham - firstname.lastname@example.org
God's word declares that there is only one way by which a person can be forgiven of sins and approach God, and that is through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That narrow, one-way path was opened when Jesus chose to die on the cross. The cross of Jesus is foolish to many people and for many others it as a stumbling block between them and truth. “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;” 1 Corinthians 1:23. The simple truth of the cross was something the Jews could not grasp. They wanted a sign that their Messiah had come, but were blind to the miracles He did while He walked this earth. The Greeks valued wisdom, so to them the simple truth of the cross wasn't easy to understand and deemed foolish. "But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men." 1 Corinthians 1:24-25. Many people are stumbled by the truth of the cross and foolishly try to find other ways to gain eternal life. There is no other way but by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Is it too simple? That simple gift was purchased at a tremendous cost.
What is the significance of the cross of Christ and what was the cost? Jesus Christ came to this earth to fulfill His Fathers will. If the Jews had accepted Him as their Messiah there would have been no crucifixion, but our Lord loves Jews and Greeks alike. He loves every man, woman, and child and doesn't want anyone to perish. "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." Matthew 18:14. God loves all of His creation, but Adam was created in God's image and that made him special. When Adam chose to sin mankind was separated from God and the fellowship they shared in the Garden was broken. God knew that there was only one way to redeem us -- He had to become one of us and then shed His own blood to take our sin away. Does this seem like foolishness to you? To me it seems like perfect love that can only be given by God Himself. The death that Jesus, God Almighty, endured in order to purchase our redemption was horrendous. I urge you to take time to read Psalm 22:1-18, which is a very graphic prophetic description of what He endured. It wasn't just the nails pounded into His hands and feet that cause His suffering, but He was whipped until His bones were exposed. He was also beaten, spit upon, and a crown of thorns was stuck into His head as a way to mock Him. He was fully God, but He was also fully human and the human side of Him felt the pain. The divine side of Him loved His creation enough to endure the torture in order to redeem us. There was no other way...no ritual, works, or law would suffice. On the night of His arrest Jesus was well aware of what He would soon endure. He wanted there to be another way, and He went to God the Father in prayer. “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” Luke 22:42. If there had been any other way to redeem us, God the Father would have not let God the Son endure the beatings, mocking, and death on the cross. The answer to Jesus' prayer was "No", so we can be assured that there is no other way. Because Jesus submitted to the Father's will we are offered salvation. This offer has to be accepted individually, but it is available to everyone.
The cross is not foolishness but it does offend many people today. They say Christianity is too narrow. “All roads lead to God so it doesn't matter what you believe.” That is foolishness. The agony that Jesus Christ endured and His death on the cross declare that there is only one way to God, and that is through the shed blood of our perfect God Himself. If it were possible that man could be saved by being "religious", the cross would be unnecessary. If man could be saved by keeping the law, the cross would be unnecessary. If people could be saved by being good, the cross would be unnecessary. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6. There is no other way for your sins to be forgiven and for you to gain eternal life but through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus willingly left Heaven and became a man to save us. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Philippians 2:8. His obedience is our salvation. What Jesus accomplished on that cross almost 2000 years ago is quite sufficient for anyone and everyone who wishes to spend eternity with God. It cannot be added to or taken away from. Good works should be a result of your faith, but good works do not bring salvation. Jesus didn’t suffer and die that horrible death to be a part of salvation; He went through all that He did because that is the one and only way we can be saved. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved,” Romans 10:9. It really is that simple. Jesus’ death on the cross was not a tragedy; it was an accomplishment and a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It is not offensive or foolish, nor should it stumble you.
Brethren, don't be ashamed of your faith in what Christ did for you. Stand firm on the truth of what Jesus accomplished on that cross. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16. When Jesus entered His creation He first came to the Jews. When they rejected Him the Gospel was spread throughout the world. God has made salvation available for everyone, but He will not force anyone to choose Heaven if they think the cross is foolish, or if they find it to be a stumbling block. There are many religions and cults that believe they have the answer to eternal life and that they have a way to enter Heaven other than the narrow path by which the Bible proclaims. These groups are terribly deceived. Those who teach that there is a way to enter Heaven other than by Jesus Christ will actually be in worse condition than others who just refuse to believe. “…even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction,” 2 Peter 2:1. Peter said there would be "false teachers among you" which means within Christian groups. Be careful, my brethren. Study God's word so you won't be deceived by false teaching. "And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." 2 Peter 2:2. Even among Christians the cross will be foolish and a stumbling block.
Many people reject the truth of the Bible and say it is a book full of myth, steeped in antiquity with no basis for factual evidence. These people have no idea of what the Bible is really all about, and they declare it to be foolishness. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” 1 Corinthians 2:14. Spiritually discerned means that only those who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them have the God given ability to understand the scriptures. For all others the Bible is foolishness. In a way, this is proof of Biblical truth. Satan would not try so hard to deceive people into being stumbled by the Bible's truth if he weren't threatened by it. Many people have been influenced by Satan and they try to rid the world of the Bible, but he is no match for God. Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and if we allow Him, He will give us the power to confound those who try to twist God's truth into foolishness. Don't be confused by Satan's lies. Study God's truth and stand on His word.
The Bible is packed with prophecy, many have been fulfilled but some are soon to be fulfilled. This is one way to know God's truth. True prophecy comes from God. He would speak to a prophet and reveal something that was going to happen. Prophecy isn't what God will make happen, but what God sees will happen. A few of the fulfilled prophecies relating to Jesus are: Micah 5:2 (He would be born in Bethlehem), 2 Samuel 7:12-14 (Son of David), Psalm 22:1-18 (crucified), Zechariah 12:10 (He would be pierced). These are just a few of the prophecies fulfilled by Christ's first advent. This fact alone authenticates God’s word. God is not restrained by space or time, but He exists outside of our time domain. God sees tomorrow as clearly as He sees today. God knew that Adam would sin before Adam was even created, and He knew the redemption for that sin would be His own death on the cross. He knew every sin you and I would commit before He even created us. He also knows who will accept the truth of the cross, and who won't. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:16-17. This is not foolishness...this is love.
Christ overcame death and the grave for you, but you need to accept that fact. The cross is not foolishness, but it is foolish to reject it. If it is a stumbling block for you, talk to a Christian who can explain why Jesus shed His precious blood. Where you spend eternity depends upon the choice you make today.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham
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This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham
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