1 Corinthians 18-20 [Paul writing to the Corinthian Church] “For the message of the cross is foolishness of those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”
Pastor Chan is trying to prove to us that God is much more intelligent than any of us. He says things like “loving God is hard” and “The wise man comes to God without saying a word.”
Because we just can’t understand God’s infinite wisdom.
Humility is called for.
Why does it have to be so hard to understand? We get an inkling of that in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church quoted above.
The Bible is full of expressions that are hard to understand but one of the hardest to understand is the emphasis on the death of Jesus. Through the death of Jesus, man gets “new life”. The circumstances of the death could have been very different but they were not, on purpose. In the upper room, Jesus broke bread as a symbolic expression of his body broken for man. Jesus served wine in memory of His blood that would be shed for man. He could have arranged things where man would remember him for his teaching, or his words or his works but instead, he followed the plan of God, that he be remembered for his body given and the blood shed in his death.
The cross, according to John Stott became the centerpiece symbol of the church and the fact that it did was truly remarkable. “In Greco-Roman culture the cross was an object of shame.” The central symbol could have been a crib [Jesus’ incarnation], a carpenter’s bench [the dignity of manual labor], or a towel [symbol of humble service to others] but the church settled on the cross. Brian Moynahan writes in his book The Faith: A History of Christianity, “at first there was no Christian art other than the cross, since the second commandment forbade graven images.”
Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 22-25: “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
Is it not ironic that the “man” who was to come to earth and save mankind would come and live a simple life, filled with acts of love and die an undignified death, never even trying to stop the process, a process that He knew He had to endure.
Yet it worked.
It worked because of God’s infinite wisdom.