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2 Corinthians

4:1-6

 

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (ESV)

 

Faith and Hostility

John Chrysostom, Pastor

27 January 2015

The cross of Christ has a threat implied in it when it is preached. This why when the cross is clearly preached many flee from the preaching. In my opinion, this is why many Protestant churches decline to have a corpus on the crosses in their churches, because it implies a threat to our human existence. If nothing else, even for the believer, the man on the cross reminds us that there will come suffering into the lives of those who confess the Crucified and that death stalks us all. We want to sublimate the threat of suffering and the approach of death. We prefer to whitewash the Crucified and His cross, so that we do not see the weakness, humiliation, blood, and suffering that it implies for those of us who believe in Him: "Keep Your suffering to Yourself, Jesus!" Such people come under the condemnation of Paul: 'I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ' (Phil 3:18).

 

The preaching of the cross is also a threat to those who hate the Savior and His faith. His weakness and humiliation are proofs that He cannot be the rescuing God that most people think they need. What fool would believe that One who could not save Himself could save him (Mt 27:42)? Elsewhere the Apostle Paul warns us that 'the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing' (1Co 1:18). The gospel then becomes a threat to those who think the cross is foolishness: 'Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God' (2Co 4:3-4).  The man on the cross is hated because those who peer into His sorrowing eyes do not know why He is sorrowing, why He is willing to suffer so. They are ignorant of their sin. They don't need a Savior, especially not One that suffers and implies their weakness and the necessity of their suffering.

 

To make sense of the suffering of the Savior, we need to recognize and believe that we need to be rescued from the depths of our depravity. It is a miracle of God's Word that we should be aware of our total and deathly sinfulness. Only those who know their need will be able to say that His suffering and death are "for me." Here is the faith which the cross both solicits and gives. Those who trust that the One who is crucified are settled in Christ's salvation. The cross of Christ makes a division in its proclamation between those who trust Christ and those who hate Him. There is no middle ground. God's Word is a blessing to the former and curse to the latter. There is no way to proclaim the truth of the Crucified without stirring up faith and hostility. We still preach it.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"If the mocker asks, 'Do you worship the Crucified?' say in reply to him, 'Yes! And not the adulterer, not the insulter of his father, not the murderer of his children (for their gods do such things). I worship Him who by the cross stopped the mouths of devils, and did away with their countless juggleries.' For the cross is for our sakes, being the work of unspeakable love toward man, the sign of His great concern for us. And in addition to what has been said, since they were puffed up with pompous speech and with their cloak of external wisdom, he means to say, bidding an absolute farewell to these reasonings, 'I come to preach the cross, and am not ashamed because of it, "for it is the power of God for salvation."' There is a power of God to chastisement also, for when He chastised the Egyptians, He said, 'This is my great army' (Joel 2:25). He holds a power to destruction; He says, 'Fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell' (Mt 10:28). For this reason Paul says, 'It is not these that I come to bring: the powers of chastisement and punishment, but those of salvation.' What then? Did not the Gospel tell of these things also, namely, the account of hell (Mt 25), and that of the outer darkness (Mt 22:13), and of the venomous worm (Mk 9:44-48)? We know of these from no other source than the Gospel."

 

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 2

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we stand below Your cross to receive from You all the benefits which You want us to have through your suffering and death. We look to You alone for salvation. Keep us in the true faith, that we might never despise Your foolishness, but confess it as the divine wisdom. Amen.

 

For those who are being fed the poison of false teaching, that they might return to Christ and His cross, and be saved

 

For President Obama, that he might be upheld in every good deed

 

For those suffering inclement weather, that they would be kept safe 
Art: CARAVAGGIO The Conversion of St. Paul  c. 1600

 

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