“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.”
An old parable tells of a man who was offered one wish by the gods. They would grant him anything. The man thought for a moment and replied, “I wish that all laughter would be on my side.” The gods were so pleased with his response they gave him everything else to boot.
What the man was asking was that he would never be the object of laughter, that he would never be the butt of the joke.
St. Paul, in one sense is saying, if you are part of the Gospel you will appear as foolish, you are going to be the butt of the joke. But what is it about the Cross, the word of the Gospel that seems to be foolishness? And why, at the same time, can this same cross be called the “power and wisdom of God”?
The simple fact is that Jesus failed to meet our standards of what it means to be God, to be a savior. In fact, it was the accusation of blasphemy that lead to his crucifixion. This one who carried no obvious credentials of divinity, claimed to be God. What a fool! Away with him!, they cried. Not much has changed.
Just consider the current crop of messiah figures in our culture; they ALL must carry the credentials of success with the message that following them, emulating them will lead you to success also. All of our redeemers are supposed to bring off redemption at little cost to themselves and at no cost to us.
Jesus, the one we call our Lord, did not come as some kind of Superman, dying on a kryptonite cross only to emerge from the phone booth of the empty tomb, ready to grant every wish. His cross exposes us at that place where God’s grace and human sin intersect. The craziness of the Christian Gospel says to us, the power and wisdom of our would-be redeemers is a lie. To see and to know the weakness, humiliation and rejection of the Crucified Jesus is to be brought into the very heart of God’s truth. To trust Jesus is not to organize Him into our way of life, our definitions of salvation. To entrust one’s self to Jesus is be shaped by the One for whom wisdom and success is serving, and power is expressed in a faith active in love.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”