1 Corinthians 2:1-16
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. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (ESV)
| || |
Wednesday of Epiphany 2
22 January 2014
The Apostle Paul gloried in the clash of impossiblities inherent in the confession of the biblical gospel. For example, the Apostle Paul reveled in the description of the crucified One as that Lord of glory (1Cor 2:8). The Apostle to the Gentiles attributes to the One who is crucified a title of divinity. Of course, crucifixion can be attributed to humanity. Countless humans have suffered this horrible method of execution. It is only remarkable to us because of its horror, not because humans lost their lives when crucified. The Romans seldom allowed the victims of the cross to walk away alive. Humans die. There is nothing unusual about that. Does the Holy Spirit need to send us the divine faith to believe this? Not hardly. But the faith in the Crucified remains a miracle of faith. We are shocked by the clash of worlds represented by the statement that the rulers of this age crucified the Lord of glory. The true God of God was nailed to a cross and breathed out his last. God died.
Here is what the church believes about the crucifixion. Not that a mere man died in Christ, but that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2Cor 5:19) in this crucified person. Many Christians today struggle with the contention that God died on the cross, arguing that it is impossible that God should die. At one level, they are right. To be God is to be immortal, by definition. However, God was unwilling to be shackled by human presuppositions about what was appropriate to his own nature. Instead, He took human flesh, flesh like ours, that in the ineffably united natures of His person He might suffer the ignominious death of crucifixion. Christ is God. Christ died. Therefore, God died. How this could be, I have no idea. Paul warns our doubting minds that no human could ever have conceived this plan for the salvation of the world. "No eye has seen. No ear has heard!"
How delighted we should be that God was willing to shatter our presuppositions and do what we needed to have done for the sake of our salvation in Christ. If God had pandered to our ideas the incarnation, suffering, and death of God's Son for the sins of the world would never have occurred. Thank God that we don't have a pandering God, but One who tells us what we need to hear, who proclaims that the Lord of glory died for poor sinners. The Master dying for His servants. The King suffering for His subjects. The offense of the cross is not the death, but who is dying. God died.
"The mention of the Lord's cross offends you. It always offended the Jews as well. You shudder at hearing that God suffered. The Gentiles in their error mocked at this also. I ask you then, in what point do you differ from them, since you both agree in this? But for my part, I not only do not water down this preaching of the holy cross, this preaching of the Lord's passion, but as far as my wishes and powers go I emphasize it. For I will declare that He who was crucified is not only the power and wisdom of God, than which there is nothing greater, but actually Lord of absolute divinity and glory. This assertion of mine is the doctrine of God, as the Apostle says, '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"' (1Co 2:4-9).
"You see how the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, and predestined before all worlds, was unknown to those who crucified the Lord of glory, and known by those who received it. And well does the Apostle say that the wisdom of God was hidden in a mystery, for never could the eye of any man see, or the ear hear, or the heart imagine this; namely, that the Lord of glory should be born of a virgin and come in the flesh, and suffer all kinds of punishment, and shameful passion. But with regard to these gifts of God, as there is no one who-since they were hidden in a mystery-could ever by himself understand them, so blessed is he who has grasped them when they are revealed. Thus all who have failed to grasp them must be reckoned among the princes of this world, and those who have grasped them among God's wise ones. He then does not grasp it who denies God born in the flesh. Therefore, you also do not grasp it, because you deny this.
"Do what you will, deny as impiously as you like, we rather believe the Apostle. And why should I say just the Apostle? Rather we believe God. For through the Apostle we believe Him, whom we know to have spoken by the Apostle. The divine Word says that the Lord of glory was crucified by the princes of the world. You deny it. They also who crucified Him denied that it was God whom they were crucifying. They then who confess Him have their portion with the Apostle who confessed Him. You are sure to have your lot with His persecutors. What is there then that can be replied to this? The Apostle says that the Lord of glory was crucified. Alter this if you can. Separate now, if you please, Jesus from God. At least you cannot deny that Christ was crucified. But it was the Lord of glory who was crucified. Therefore you must either deny that Christ was nailed to the cross, or you must admit that God was nailed to it."
John Cassian, Seven Books on the Incarnation, 3.9
Lord Christ, You have been crucified for us poor sinners. Only because you are God of God does Your death benefit us. Keep us from doubt and unbelief. Send Your Spirit to us that might believe always what You have told us in Your Word. Amen.
For Bob Sheffield, who is suffering from cancer, that the Lord Jesus would grant him strength and healing
For Jason Taylor, that the Lord would grant him healing
For Pastor Charles St-Onge, that the Lord Jesus would be with him as he prepares to begin work in the foreign mission field
For all those who absent themselves from the gathering of the church around word and sacraments, that they might be called back to the true faith and rescued from the siren sound of the world's enticements
Art: MEMLING, Hans Adoration of the Magi (c. 1470)
© Scott R. Murray, 2014