For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 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. 1 Corinthians 1:17-18
Oh how we try to rely on everything but the simple message of the cross to get by and to get ahead in life! We rely on eloquent wisdom, fancy words, glitzy images, good looks, muscle, craftiness, slick tricks, sometimes manipulation…anything but the simple message of the cross. It’s a fitting Easter thought–the cross. I need to return to it again and again.
In reading through Isaiah 53, and back through the corresponding Gospel passages, I am struck with the basic message:
- Jesus was sinless. Pilate said he found no fault in Jesus (Luke 23:4). Hebrews 4:15 states, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” In other words, Jesus never sinned. That’s why He was able to be the sacrifice for our sins.
- The sinless one took our sins. Back to Isaiah 53:4-5, we find that Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed. That’s the good news of Easter. Jesus paid the price for sin so we don’t have to pay it, if we allow Him to.
- Jesus gave up His life willing for us. Sin brings death and demands that a price be paid. We’ve all sinned, and we all deserve death. Isaiah 53:6 says, 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. Jesus said in John 10:18 No one takes (my life) from Me, but I lay it down of my own accord. Jesus willingly gave up His life to pay the price for our sin.
- This is where true love and peace are found. Romans 5:8 proclaims, But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And 1 John 4:10: In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the wrath satisfier (my word) for our sins. And Romans 5:1 so marvelously declares, Since we have justified by faith, we have peace with God. There is no other way to find peace deep down inside than to get this straight.
This is the message of the cross. 1 Corinthians 1 goes on to say that God entrusted the foolish, the weak, the low and despised to carry this message to shame the strong, the wise and the mighty so that none might boast in the presence of God. God picked me, and for that I am eternally grateful. And I get to tell others this simple, yet powerful message, not with eloquent words of wisdom lest I empty the cross of its power.
Jesus, use me.
*Image by ‘Faithlife Sermons’