The Logic of the Cross

1 Corinthians 2:1-10

Preaching has power. The power is from the Spirit. It is why we preach the gospel instead of preach about the gospel. The Spirit reveals the mystery to us. It could not come from us. There is no searching the depths of human wisdom to find wisdom. In the depths of human wisdom we find glory but the wisdom of God is Christ crucified.

Let’s say that it was possible to mine the depths of human wisdom and find the truth of God and his Son. If that were so, then humanity would have already figured it out by the time Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians. The Greeks were smart and so were the Egyptians. The sages of the East weren’t idiots. They thought about the mystery of life and the highest good. The knowledge was out there but still they “crucified the Lord of glory” (2 Corinthians 2:8). There was something missing from the collective human wisdom and there still is.

Nor do we flawed people now understand the wisdom of God because we now have the information of Christ crucified. We still don’t get it. It is a constant battle between our wisdom and God’s foolishness. It’s not that God’s message is illogical. There is an internal logic to the cross. Justice is paid for with a death. Mercy is given to the sinner because someone holy replaced the sinner. It makes sense and we have the information. The problem is with us. We fight against truth. We are blind. We are so blind that we talk our way out of the gospel if left to our own devices. It really is that bad.

So when the words of Gospel are preached it is more than information. This preaching comes with power. It changes blind hearts to seeing hearts. It shines light on those grasping in the darkness. It takes really smart people and brings them to their knees. It makes the dead alive. It saves. It literally saves people from their sinful condition. No wonder then that Paul tells the Corinthians “I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Paul’s humble preaching was not so that all glory went to God as if God needed our praises. His preaching was so that we would not trust in ourselves (glory) but rather trust in Christ (cross). The revealed mystery is for us and for our benefit. And the benefit is not superior knowledge so that we might boast. The benefit is that we fully trust in Christ for our salvation. What would be the point if Paul made the Corinthians the wisest and smartest people in the Mediterranean world but had no trust in Christ? So we must be humbled and then we must be enlightened. Neither the humbling nor the enlightening can come from within. No, the Spirit does this to us.

God’s secret wisdom was hidden but now is revealed. It was hidden because we sinners could not see and still cannot see with our own eyes of glory. So the Spirit puts on the lenses of the cross on our weary eyes. Now we see. The truth is revealed to us. And there he is: the bloodied man. Our wisdom wants to turn away. Or even worse, our wisdom wants to make him something else than the crucified one. We make him only an example, an inspiration, a jumping off point to our own story, a story of reform, a story of development, a story of growth, or progress. A story of glory.

So we need preaching. Not wisdom preaching but foolishness preaching. We need cross. We cannot be left to our own devices. We will find glory in all the wrong places. The sinful nature is wired for glory. The sinful nature cannot be changed. We need preaching to kill. We need preaching to make alive. We need cross preaching. We need the Spirit to do the work with his Word of power.

So we do not simply preach about the gospel, we preach the gospel for it is the power of God to save us.

Michael Berg

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