BY REV. TIM HARMON - LAKE PARK FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
"The message of the cross is foolishness,"says Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:18). In our society that is true. It is hard to understand the Good News that Christ Jesus came and did much more than teach a moral life or perform miracles but died as a criminal accused of sedition and treason.
In fact, in the way that our country has been divided lately, you might think folks would have nothing to do with a rebel who worked against the civil and religious authority of the day and was defeated in such a humiliating way. Even we Christians fight about what this means—some holding to such "in-group" jargon and terms as atonement or redemption to try to understand this message, this action. But Paul again warns us that we should not rest in human wisdom or trying to make rational explanations but instead rely on God’s power and the Spirit’s wisdom shown in Jesus.
This Holy Week, let us stop and really look at the Cross and Jesus. Jesus tells us in John’s gospel that this was something that cost him, that he was in his humanness not eager to do, but the central reason and message he came to share (John 12: 27).
What is that message?
First, sin and separation from God is toxic, is fatal. Sin is not only moral wrong going, but it is thinking of yourself before others (even if justified) and to look to your own agency instead of God’s agency in your life. That is sin is whenever we think we are in control instead of God. Second, God does not abandon us to the abyss. God promises in Genesis and continues throughout scripture to promise to pursue us, to provide for us and reach out to us. Jesus shows the lengths to which God will go to reach us — even to God’s own death in Jesus. As Romans 8 says — Jesus proves that nothing, not even death or ridicule or political intrigue or personal dangers or doubt, can separate us from God in Jesus.
And third, the cross shows us that we are remade in Christ (Romans 6: 6-8 and Colossians 3:3). In his cross, we are dead, only to be reborn at the empty tomb three days later with him. We are marked this way in Baptism, and we are thus called to and promised eternal life in Jesus. The message of the cross is indeed foolishness, but thanks be to God that God’s foolishness is wiser than the wisest human. May you know Christ and him crucified this Holy Week, that the message you hear might not rest in human persuasive words and deceit but instead in the power and wisdom of God.