Key Verse: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18 NKJV)
The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written,
I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head,
I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots.
So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.
Reflection: (1 Corinthians 1:19)
Paul summarizes Isaiah 29:14 to emphasize a point Jesus often made:
God’s way of thinking is not like the world’s way (normal human wisdom).
And God offers eternal life, which the world can never give.
We can spend a lifetime accumulating wisdom and yet never learn how to have a personal relationship with God.
We must come to the crucified and risen Christ to receive eternal life and the joy of a personal relationship with our Savior.
22-25 While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle—and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.”
Reflection: (1 Corinthians 1:22-24)
Many Jews considered the Good News of Jesus Christ to be foolish because they thought the Messiah would be a conquering king accompanied by signs and miracles.
Jesus had not restored David’s throne as they expected.
Besides, He was executed as a criminal, and how could a criminal be a savior?
Greeks, too considered the Good News foolish: They did not believe in a bodily resurrection; they did not see in Jesus the powerful characteristics of their mythological gods; and they thought no reputable person would be crucified.
To them, death was defeat, not victory.
The Good News of Jesus Christ still sounds foolish to many.
Our society worships power, influence, and wealth.
Jesus came as a humble, poor servant, and He offers His Kingdom to those who have faith, not to those who do all kinds of good deeds to try to earn salvation.
This looks foolish to the world, but Christ is the mighty power of God, the only way we can be saved.
Knowing Christ personally is the greatest wisdom anyone can have.
Reflection: (1 Corinthians 1:25)
The message of Christ’s death for sins sounds foolish to those who don’t believe.
Death seems to be the end of the road, the ultimate weakness.
But Jesus did not stay dead.
His resurrection demonstrated His power even over death.
And He will save us from eternal death and give us everlasting life if we trust Him as Savior and Lord.
This sounds so simple that many people won’t accept it.
They try other ways to obtain eternal life (being good, being wise, etc.).
But all their attempts are futile.
The “foolish” people who simply accept Christ’s offer are actually the wisest of all, because they alone will live eternally with God.
26-31 Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”
Reflection: (1 Corinthians 1:27)
Is Christianity against rational thinking?
Christians clearly do believe in using their minds to weigh the evidence and make wise choices.
But Paul declaring that no amount of human knowledge can replace or bypass Christ’s work on the cross.
If it could, Christ would be accessible only to the intellectually gifted and well educated and not to ordinary people or to children.
Reflection: (1 Corinthians 1:28-31)
Paul continues to emphasize that the way to receive salvation is so simple that any person who wants to can understand it.
Skill and wisdom do not get a person into God’s Kingdom – simple faith does.
So no one can boast that personal achievements helped to secure eternal life.
Salvation is totally from God through Jesus’ death.
There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation; we need only to accept what Jesus has already done for us.
Reflection: (1 Corinthians 1:30)
God is our source and the reason for our personal relationship with Christ.
Our union and identification with Christ results in our having God’s wisdom (Colossians 2:3), being acceptable to God (2 Corinthians 5:21), being pure (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7), and having the penalty for our sins paid by Jesus (Mark 10:45).