SER # 5W
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
SUNDAY FEBRRUARY 2ND 2020
TEXTS: 1 CORINTHIANS 1: 18 – 31
THEME: THE POWER AND WISDOM OF GOD
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved” (1 Corinthians 1:18). This is a very loaded statement which might need some unparking for us to understand. In Jesus time the cross was a symbol of shame because those who hang there were the worst people in the community. They would have committed a serious crime to be accorded this punishment. Roman or Jew were exempt from this punishment because they were citizen. It was a punishment for foreigners. That is why when Jesus death came through this method to the people it did not have any power.
But we now know that this was God’s way of showing something more than what people knew. He was a powerful God who would and could use any method to redeem his people. He parted the Red Sea for Israelites to cross on s dry sea floor. He created the universe hence nothing is impossible to him.
We believe in a God who is Omnipotent, that is an all-powerful God. God’s wisdom (Greek word for wisdom is Sophia or sofia) is greater than the whole world wisdom put together. People may acquire knowledge through learning but wisdom is a virtue that we achieve when we apply the knowledge in the right way. Sir Francis Bacon once said “Knowledge is power” but it was Gautama Buddha who said “Wisdom is the highest of all five virtues.’”
As Paul was trying to reach to the people of Corinth with the word of God, he knew that he was dealing with a mixed audience who were demanding different interpretation of the word of God. The Greeks were looking for wisdom they were the philosophers who needed their brains to be convinced, while the Jews sought the signs and miracles so that they can acknowledge that is God at work hence they would believe in the word of God. What these groups failed to understand is that even the foolishness of God (which does not exist according to me) is wiser than the wisdom of humans, the weakness of God (which does not exist according to me) is stronger than the human strength. God remains God if we believe in him or not. Nothing changes from who he is and what he continues to be. Hi power and wisdom can be seen through the redemptive nature and his love for his creation.
What is the message of the cross to us today?
- A symbol of redemption: A story is told of a boy who went to church and saw a cross at the center of the sanctuary. On his way out he asked the Dad why there was a plus sign in the Church. The father not knowing what to say just responded that when Jesus died, he was crucified on the cross which means he added another life after we die. It might sound a simple question and a simple answer but we believers know that the cross was the defining act of God’s love to humanity. It was the cross that truly claimed us for God in this life and life to come. Jesus bought us back with his blood. He payed the ransom for us. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and later Cain killed his brother Abel the relationship between God and his people was cut. People had chosen to follow the evil way. In other words, the evil owned humanity. Because God loved his creation, he wanted to redeem them back to his own love. He had to offer his only son blood which had redemptive powers for the human sin once and for all. There would be no need of frequent animal sacrifices. The ultimate sacrifice done: We know from history that a sacrifice was necessary to make sure that peoples’ sin was atoned. They sacrificed twice a day a lamb with no blemish. When Jesus is taken up on that cross unlike who were crucified before him and after him by the Roman powers his sacrifice was final when it comes to cleansing the sinful nature of humanity. There is power in the blood of Jesus. We sing a chorus that reflect exactly this “There is power, power, wonder working power in the blood of the lamb, there power, power, wonder working power in the precious blood of the lamb.” The power of God is such that nothing human can compare with it.
- Forgiveness pronounced: When we read of the seven words of the cross or 7 statements that Jesus pronounced while on the cross, forgiveness was the first one. “Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). There is power in forgiveness. Forgiveness bring new hope and new beginning. When forgiven one is simply given an opportunity to start again. What is so special in the forgiveness that Jesus gives is that he does not blame us for the sins of the past once forgiven unlike us humans. Humans tend to reminds other of their past mistakes even when they a pretending to be forgiving them of the present mistakes. The past mistakes or success can pull us back and we fail to focus on the goal ahead of us. Apostle Paul encourages us to look forward and forget what is past. “Not that I have already obtained al , or have already been made perfect but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do; forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead. Press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). The forgiveness we received at the cross is from the original sin and any other sin that we are willing to bring before the Lord. Forgiveness is free to all who seek. To the thirsty they go for water. Just being human we can never avoid falling into sin but our desire should be that of longing for God’s forgiveness and his cleansing blood. The Psalmist put it this way, “As the deer pants for the streams of water, so my soul pants for you O God” (Psalm 42:1). We look everyday at the cross of forgiveness
- Submission to the Will of God: The cross reminds us the power of submission to the will of God. Though the cross was not one of the best ways to die as it involved a lot of torture, Jesus never tried to avoid it. The Devil tried to persuade Jesus to take a shortcut but Jesus knew what the word of God said. The devil had taken Jesus to the wilderness to test him for 40 days (Luke 4:1-13) but he emerged victorious. It easy to avoid the hard part of the journey but we have to remember because of Jesus submitting to the will of the father we have become victorious no matter what comes our way. The wisdom of the world would have tried to talk Jesus to avoiding the cross. Peter tried to stop Jesus or stand on his way and that when he received the rebuke. It is interesting that Jesus never rebuked Peter for betraying him but rather used the opportunity to educate him and other. But on Peter trying to stop Jesus to go and die on the cross Jesus was not happy. “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, Never Lord he said, this shall never happen to you. Jesus turned and said to Peter, Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:22-23). Jesus is reminding Peter that he can’t disobey the will of his father and this is a true statement of Jesus submission to the will of God.
The writer of proverbs also reminds us of these words; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). The power of salvation does not come through the wisdom that we posses but rather through faith by accepting that which God has given us through the preachers. We have to acknowledge even with the present advancement in technology God still remains as the wisest and power as he was from the beginning.