Short Meditations for Easter on the Cross: 21. Power
1 Cor 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
“The message of the cross”. What does that mean? It has to mean more than the simple historical fact that a Jewish preacher-miracle worker was put to death some two thousand years ago outside the walls of Jerusalem. That is the starting point, those are the facts, but they are only the beginning.
The rest is what we have referred to as the significance or meaning of those events and that may be summed up as ‘Christ died to carry our sins, our guilt and our punishment’ and that in itself is the greatest statement that has ever been heard in the world, for it opens up the way for us to receive God’s salvation which includes being justified (made right) in His sight, being adopted into His family, and receive the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit – and all that comes because of the cross, because of Jesus dying there for us.
But to most people, they read that paragraph and yawn and turn to the affairs of life and fail to realise they are ‘perishing’; they are living without God, they are living by their own wisdom, their own very limited resources, and are therefore very vulnerable to the struggles of life (see Jesus’ parable in Mt 7) and they have no eternal destiny. As we saw yesterday, “Their destiny is destruction.” (Phil 3:19). In their blindness all this talk of the cross is foolishness.
But for you and me “who are being saved”, it is something else! Notice the tense – “are being”. Salvation is a threefold process: when you surrendered to Christ you were saved. As we live out our Christian lives, we are being saved. When we get to heaven we will be finally saved. When we came to Christ, the power of his Holy Spirit was imparted to us. Now day by day we live our lives empowered by Him. When we get to heaven we will have new bodies empowered and brought about by Him. Everything about this new life is about power – His power released in us and it all comes because of what Christ did on the Cross. Our part was simply to believe it and receive it and remain open to it and respond to it.
Paul emphasised this when he wrote, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (1 Cor 1:17) No, he was saying, what we do is not by human strength or human wisdom because that would detract from the wonder of the truth about salvation; no, it is all the power that flows to us because of the wonder of what Christ achieved on the cross, the potential of our justification which is there to be received.