THE POWER OF THE CROSS
Devotional for March 4, 2018 based upon 1 Corinthians 1: 18-25
There are far too many people today who want a God who will not expect any changes in them, but instead will approve of whatever way they may want to live. But sooner or later we bump into the cross, where we meet a God who says, “I love you totally and unconditionally, but I do not like your sin. In fact, I hate your sin. Your sin is so horrible to Me that because of it, I had to go to the cross – to suffer and die to free you from its power and penalty.” Thus Paul declares in his first letter to the Corinthians that the cross is “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are being saved it is the power and wisdom of God.”
First, for some the cross is a STUMBLING BLOCK. The Jews of Jesus’ day found the cross to be a stumbling block because Jesus was not the kind of Messiah they wanted. They wanted a Messiah who would overthrow the Romans and re-establish the Kingdom of God – with them in charge.
If Jesus had marshaled an army, led them into battle, and defeated the Romans. If He had shown them that He could be successful and victorious, then they would have rallied around Him and marched right behind Him. But the cross got in the way. For dying on a cross looks like defeat, weakness, and failure, not success, power, and victory. So they kept stumbling over it. The cross kept getting in the way.
And the cross keeps getting in the way for people today. Many people today do not believe that we need a Savior to die on a cross for our sins. Rather we just need someone to inspire us to do what we have within us the power to do. People who believe that stumble over the cross.
And then Paul said that for other people the cross is FOOLISHNESS. In ancient times, the Greeks were known for wisdom. They were the educated people of the day.
And many people today believe that if we can just give everybody a good education, then the world will get better and better. But society has found that if you educate criminals, all you get are better educated criminals. Just think of the big time swindling that has been done by some of the richest, most powerful, and most educated people today.
Reason tells you that an Almighty God would not allow puny people to nail Him to a cross. Also, the Greeks had a different concept of salvation. They believed that all souls are immortal. So when you die, you automatically go to be with the gods. If your life was good enough, then you get to stay with the gods. If it was not good enough, then you get reincarnated into another body and you get another chance. You keep on trying until you get it right.
That way eventually everybody is saved. Nobody is lost. You just keep on getting reincarnated until finally everybody is with the gods. The Greeks did not need a Savior or a cross because, in their thinking, everybody is going to be saved anyway. So to them the cross was foolishness. We have the same kind of thinking today.
But then Paul says that to those who are being saved, the cross is the POWER AND WISDOM OF GOD. At the foot of the cross we find our strength – the power that enables us to keep on going even when we are tempted to quit. The cross is our power source.
Now think for a moment about power sources. In order to get power from a power source – like a car battery – what do you need? You need a good connection. There can be no space separating the cable from the battery post. In the same way, we must stay connected to Jesus for the cross to have power in our lives. The connection must be tight. Paul said it best when he declared, “Nothing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ.”
And we must not let anything corrode our connection with God. Pride, hatred, refusing to forgive, jealousy, anger, and strife can all interfere with and keep us from having a good connection with God. Whatever they are in your life, get rid of those things that are keeping you from having a good connection with your power source.
And then, along with the hot wire, there must be a ground wire. You may be trying to handle a really tough situation, but if your ground wire is loose – if it is not connected – it just will not work.
How can you become and stay grounded? By accepting Jesus as your Savior and believing in your heart that He was raised from the dead, you can become grounded to the cross and thus receive power from the source of salvation.
Yes, long before Sears ever thought of the name, Jesus was the original Die Hard. Jesus is better than Ever Ready. He has power to save and power to spare. They crucified Him on a cross, buried Him in a borrowed tomb, and tried to drain Him of all His power. But early one Sunday morning our Die Hard, Ever Ready Energizer rose will all power. He rose with wonder working, soul saving, healing power.
Are you connected to Him, the source of all power? Are you grounded to that old rugged cross?
Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE