The Parting of the Ways
Christmas can have a certain sentimental pull for those who are perishing. After all, only the most depraved cannot be moved at the sight and joy of a newborn baby. Motherhood, fatherhood, birth, poverty, rejection–all of these pull at the sentiments of most men. The world has an emotional attachment to Christmas.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. . . . For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (I Corinthians 1: 18-24)
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. We Christians know intuitively to what the apostle refers. First, amongst many other aspects the Cross displays the wisdom of God. Long we lived in sin and darkness, condemned by Adam’s sin, a condemnation ratified by our own daily transgressions and lack of conformity to God’s holy law. God’s wisdom is manifested in sending a holy human substitute, not born of Adam and without sin. Angels could not have conceived such a plan of redemption, let alone carried it out.
The cross also displays the power of God. The power of creating out of nothing, sustaining, keeping, empowering one who was tempted in all points such as we are and yet remaining steadfast, although born bearing the fruit of sin (disease, hunger, exhaustion, and temptations of all kinds). And on that terrible cross, in the hours of darkness whilst the wrath and vengeance of God against us was poured forth upon our penal substitute, the power of God also sustained him so that he withstood the most acute temptation of all: the temptation to doubt, to despair, to distrust, and to deny his heavenly Father.
Therefore God highly exalted him and bestowed upon him a name which is above very name that at the name of Jesus all creatures in heaven and upon the earth and under the earth should bow.
The cross: the wisdom of God and the power of God. About these things Unbelief can know nothing. For Unbelief the Cross ever remains a stumbling block and folly. But to those who are called it is a radically different story. At this juncture the ways part. Two peoples separate and can never come together.
For the called, Easter is like birth pangs: we experience terrible pain and grief arising from what we were and who we are; but in the morning, shouts of great joy. Christ: the wisdom of God and the power of God. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.
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