᛭ INI ᛭
Today we get the scandal of the cross. It’s foolish. It’s obscene. It’s ridiculous. It’s offensive, not only to our modern sensibilities but to our human way of thinking. “The Word of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God,” (1 Cor 1) “for salvation for all who believe,” (Rom 1:16) “because one died for all.” (2 Cor 5)
“Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks, but to those who are called Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor 1) We determine to know nothing among ourselves εἰ μὴ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν καὶ τοῦτο ἐσταυρωμένον. (2 Cor 2)
The importance of the cross isn’t its current emptiness. The cross is important because God hanged on it. It was God’s cross. For even the other two crosses were emptied that first Good Friday. “That their bodies might not remain on the cross that Sabbath, for that Sabbath was a high, they asked that their legs would be broken that they might be taken away.” (Jn 19)
Jesus’ legs weren’t broken. “He can count all His bones, not one of them is broken.” (Ps 22) The centurion “ found that Jesus had already died.” (Jn 19) So He pierced Jesus side with His spear, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν εὐθὺς αἷμα καὶ ὕδωρ. (Jn 19). “He was pierced for our transgressions.” “He poured out His soul to death.” (Is 53) That blood and water came from God the Son: “They will look on Me whom they’ve pierced.” (Zech 12) “So shall He sprinkle many nations.” (Is 52:15)
The crucifixion is Jesus’ glory. (It’s always God’s glory to save sinners, to save you, to be “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” towards you, “who pardons iniquity, transgression, and sin” (Ex 35)—yours!) At Calvary, on the cross, Jesus, the Son of Man, the Son of God, was “high and lifted up” (Jn 8), He was “exalted” (Jn 3), He was “glorified.” (Jn 12) He was saving you.
Yes, “cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” (Gal 3) But Jesus being cursed is His glory. (“The Lord loves to hide under His opposite.” [Luther, Heidelberg Disputation]) “It is the glory of kings to search things out, but the glory of God to hide a things.” (Prov 25:22) Jesus’ curse is your blessing. His condemnation, your salvation. His death, your life. His suffering, your peace. “The chastisement that brought us peace was upon Him.” (Is 53)
He “purchased and won [you] from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with His holy precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death.” “He bore our sins in His own body on the tree, by His wounds you have been healed,” (1 Pet 1) forgiven, “cleansed from all your iniquities” (Ps 51)
But the scandal keeps going. “It pleased God to save through the foolishness of preaching (τοῦ κηρύγματος).” (1 Cor 1) Paul knew this scandal: “O foolish Galatians, who as bewitched you to another Gospel?” (Gal 3) “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.” (Rom 1:16) “The Gospel saves you.” (1 Cor 15)
But what is the Gospel? “Jesus Christ and Him crucified,” (1 Cor 1) that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor 15) “One died for all.” (2 Cor 5) For this reason Paul continued, “O foolish Galatians, who as bewitched you to another Gospel, before whose eyes Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” (Gal 3)
Jesus is forever the crucified one. (Even Jesus’ scars offend us!) “They pierced My hands and My feet.” (Ps 22) But the angels preached a crucified Jesus to the women at the empty tomb. “You seek Jesus who was crucified.” (Mt 28) Jesus said, “See My hands and My side, that it is I Myself.” (Lk 24) As he recounts in Revelation, John saw Jesus as “the Lamb standing in the midst the throne, who looked like He was slain.” (Rev 5)
More scandal in delivering of that cross! All the Gifts of Jesus tie back into His cross, unite you to His cross, and the salvation, the redemption He won for you there. No other God than your crucified Jesus, true Son of the Father. His dead body on the cross is your redemption. “As many of you as were baptized into Christ, were baptized into His death.” (Rom 6) “As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor 11) for “the bread we break is a communion of the body of Christ, and the cup we bless is a communion of the blood of Christ.” (1 Cor 10)
Christ crucified for you, the Gospel, into your ears. Christ crucified into your eyes through a crucifix. Christ crucified, His death, splashed over your forehead in the water and Word of Holy Baptism. Christ crucified, His death proclaimed, placed into your mouth, through the eating and drinking His body and blood, “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” The benefits of Calvary, Jesus crucified, dead on the cross, delivered in His Word and Gifts, and the benefits all received by faith. “God put Christ forward as a sacrifice by His blood to be received by faith.” (Rom 5)
Jesus dying for you is His love. “God is love” (1 Jn 4), and we see that “on public display” when Jesus died on the cross. That’s not only “His great love for you and other sinners” but also “His great love for His Father.” (Christian Questions) The Father’s love, too: “God so loved the world that He gave up His only Son.” (Jn 3) Yet, “we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” (Is 53)
Christ’s love for you drove Him to His cross. “His thirst for your salvation” caused Him to drink the cup of wrath from His Father. “It pleased the LORD to crush Him.” (Is 53) “Let this cup pass, yet not My will, but Thy will be done.” (Mt 27)
Christ’s love grasps hold of us. ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ Χριστοῦ “controls” (συνέχει) ἡμᾶς, compels, seizes us. So that now, by the Spirit working through us, we love those around us with Christ’s love not our own. “We consider no one according to the flesh, judging that one died for all, therefore all died.” (2 Cor 5) Everyone is someone Jesus died for, even our enemies. (Should we even have those?) Anyway, they’re died for. You’re died for, too.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Is 53:6) All. Everyone. You. Me. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us.” He becomes. Christ the Murderer (Barabbas), Abuser (Centurion), Betrayer (Judas), Gossip (Religious Leaders), Adulterer (David), Idolater (Paul). Whatever label you get because of your sins, Jesus got, and now “you are the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5) In Jesus alone. No longer those things, you were washed, sanctified, justified by the Spirit of our God and by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 3)
For “if anyone is in Christ He is a new creation, the old has passed away behold the new has come.” (2 Cor 5) For “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.” (Gal 3) “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires,” (Gal 5) by the Spirit, who bears His fruit in you (Gal 5).
The scandal of the cross! “The stone which the builders rejected as become the cornerstone. Whoever falls on Him will break to pieces, and on whomever He falls will be crushed.” (Mt 22) Calvary, cross—God’s Calvary, God’s cross—for you. Jesus dead on the cross means you’re saved. That delivered to you means you’re saved. That received by faith alone means you’re saved.
Jesus also rose for your justification. (Rom 4) “When his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (Is 53:10)” Not many tombs out their still empty because their occupant walked out. In fact, just one.
A full cross is a comforting cross—Christ crucified for you, dead for your sins. “It is finished.” (Jn 19) An empty tomb is a comforting tomb—raised for your justification, your eternal innocence. “Never to die again.” (Rom 6) But still the Crucified One. Crucified for you. God crucified. In your ears, over your forehead, into your mouths, even into your eyes! Gospel seen!
Stumbling block to the Jews. Foolishness, silliness, absurd to the Gentiles. But to you and me who are being saved, isn’t it great?