1:23 - 2:10
We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him" - these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. (ESV)
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This Is Our God
Wednesday of Advent 2
11 December 2013
The Bible continually portrays Jesus Christ as the Crucified One. That's his name: "Crucified." Now what God is willing that his Son should be called crucified. Isn't there some way we can nice this up, God? Can't we call him the Resurrected One instead? While I didn't spend all night searching for it, I could not find a biblical reference that called Jesus Christ "the Resurrected One." Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mean to say that He's not raised. I just can't find the title or name, "the Resurrected One," attributed to Jesus in the Bible, as much as the title is entirely appropriate on the lips of the faithful. However, I can find the name "the Crucified One" throughout Scripture.
Paul says that He is first born from the dead (Col 1:18) (Paul never uses the word "tomb" either). He is the first born from the dead that in everything He might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of the Godhead is pleased to dwell and through him to reconcile all things whether on earth or in heaven making peace by the blood of his cross (Col 1:18-20). So notice that after Paul calls Him the one who was raised, who is the first born from the dead, and yet he still wants to get us down into the blood of the cross. It's not something to be forgotten or filed away for Good Friday to be hauled out and dusted off for the dire displays of Lent. Garrison Keillor says that for Lutherans every Sunday is Good Friday.
And you know what? In a way, Garrison Keillor is right. We've got a God that pours out his blood on the cross. He's the Crucifixus, the crucified one. And sometimes we struggle with that because it shows us the man of sorrows. It shows us what happens when the tree is green. What will happen when it is dry (Lk 23:31)? The cross and crucifixion can become a terrible preaching of sin, but that's not how Jesus wants us to look at him as crucified. He wants us to see that we have been sent there to the cross with Him, that we share in His death and that we do it through baptism. If we have been united with Him in a death like his, shall we not also be united with him in a resurrection like his (Rm 6:5)? Yes, of course. A thousand times over. So talking about Christ as the crucified one is a word of triumph as well as of suffering.
Are we ready to be shaped like the crucified one? Haven't we been baptized into his death? And therefore haven't we been shaped like him in his crucifixion? We are coming upon days of persecution. We do not seek persecution, but the devil is prowling about seeking whom he can devour. And only under the cross of Christ will we be kept safe. Oh yes, there will be suffering- as there is now in our lives. But it will be given sense and meaning because the one that is called the crucified one, the Crucifixus, has suffered for us. This is our God. We know who He is because He revealed Himself to us. This is our God: Christ, raised for us; Christ the one who has been crucified for us poor sinners. This is our God.
John of Damascus
"Wherever the sign of the cross may be, there also Christ will be. It is not right for us to worship the material of which the image of the cross is composed, even though it is gold or precious stones. Everything, therefore, that is dedicated to God we worship, conferring the adoration on Him.
The tree of life which was planted by God in Paradise prefigured this precious cross (Gn 2:9). For since death was by a tree, it was fitting that life and resurrection should be bestowed by a tree. Jacob, when He worshiped the top of Joseph's staff, was the first to imagine the cross (Heb 11:21), and when he blessed his sons with crossed hands he made most clearly the sign of the cross. Likewise, also did Moses' rod, when it struck the sea in the figure of the cross and saved Israel, while it overwhelmed Pharaoh in the depths. Likewise also the hands stretched out crosswise and routing Amalek (Ex 17); and the bitter water made sweet by a tree (Ex 15:23-26), and the rock rent and pouring forth streams of water (Num 20), and the rod that meant for Aaron the dignity of the high priesthood (Ex 4), and the serpent lifted in triumph on a tree as though it were dead (Num 21:8-10), the tree bringing salvation to those who in faith saw their enemy dead, just as Christ was nailed to the tree in the flesh of sin which yet knew no sin (2Co 5:21). But may we, who keep this in reverence, obtain a part in Christ the crucified. Amen."
John of Damascus,
An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 4.11
Gracious God, strengthen all who bear the sign of the cross to be teachers and examples of the Christian faith, and by the gracious leading of Your Holy Spirit fulfill Your promises to them and those whom they teach; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For Bob Frerking, that he might continue to rest secure in the arms of His Savior
For Lee Burrows, that the Lord Jesus would be with him in his weakness and that he would comforted by his Good Shepherd
For all pastors and church leaders as they continue their Adventide labors and look forward to celebrating the feast of the incarnation, that they might experience the joys of these days while bearing the burdens of preparation
Art: WEYDEN, Rogier van der Annunciation Triptych (c. 1440)
© Scott R. Murray, 2012