First Baptist Church, Cobden IL
Sunday, June 16, 2019
200 South Walker St. Cobden, IL 62920
 
 

 

Dear Church Family,

 

     Reflecting on the season of  Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, I was reminded from I Corinthians 1, that our message of Christ crucified is a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles.  Think with me for a moment about this verse.  Looking at the later first, we see the folly of the crucifixion to the Gentiles.  The Greco-Roman world of  polytheism understood Gods that were in many ways magnified expressions of sinfully fallen men. These Gods were marked by fleshly pursuits and self serving interests.  For “a” god to come into his created order humbly in the vulnerable robe of flesh for the purpose of serving his hostile creation unto death on a cross was asinine in their eyes.  Their deities were idols of their own making.  For instance, the chief God of the pantheon was Zeus, who cheated on his wife Hera constantly,  and many of his forays were not consensual.  Zeus could hold a grudge, so if you made him mad, you could face unending trouble, as Prometheus found out when he gave humanity fire.  Zeus chained him to a rock and had an eagle eat Prometheus’ liver every day for eternity—just for being nice to humanity.  Certainly there were other unfounded reasons that Gentiles considered the cross as foolishness but let’s move to the former group described by Paul.  The Jews.  The Jews rejected the cross according to verse 23 of ch. 1, because in their eyes it was a “stone of stumbling and  offense”.  To get to the heart of the Jews rejection, it seems important to recognize that the English phrase translated “stone of offense”, comes from the Greek word, “skandalon”.  We get our English world scandal from this Greek expression.  I want to be careful here and not create a word fallacy by comparing our contemporary usage of scandal with its usage in the ancient world, however, my studies show very close parallels.  This being the case for the word scandal according to Webster’s dictionary is a “discredit brought upon religion by unseemly conduct in a religious person or conduct that causes or encourages a lapse of faith or of religious obedience in another”.  Putting the pieces together it seems that for the Jews, number one, a suffering Savior would not do.  They undersold themselves and would blindly have traded victory over sin and death and eternity in the new heavens and new earth for political sovereignty over a strip of sand in the Middle East.  Number two, rejecting the right understanding of the Old Testament they couldn’t see Immanuel as God Himself robed in the flesh coming incarnate into creation.  There was a deep sense of holiness that the Jewish community understood about God.  For God to come at all in flesh seemed incomprehensible and “scandalous”, much more to die and be cursed upon a tree.  How  could this be? Here’s where we must stop and raise a question in our own heart.  Isn’t there a sense here where the Jews were right?  I mean there ought to be at least an instinctive sense of injustice rumbling in our souls while considering the claims of the crucifixion. I Peter 3:18 says it like this, “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” The “just for the unjust”, wrap your mind around that for a moment!  Maybe in that sense the cross was a “scandal”.  But where the majority of Israel in Jesus' day rejected the cross, it is our hope to embrace the cross. And better yet the victorious Christ over the cross.  And as we embrace Christ on and now over His cross we embrace the “just” dying for the unjust.  Therefore, let our hearts drive us to our knees in worship, gratitude and joyful obedience never forgetting that our salvation is all of His grace. 

Pastor Ed