The Apostle Paul wrote the letter known as 1 Corinthians to the church in Corinth because he heard they were straying from the teaching he shared and were going back to their old ways. In his letter, he reiterated that they must focus on his teaching, Christ crucified. Paul knew that preaching the crucified Jesus was a difficult concept for the people of those times to grasp and says as much in 1 Corinthians 1:23 “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”
To the first listeners, the Cross was shocking, revolting, and offensive. They knew what crucifixion looked like, smelled like, and sounded like. The horrific sight of completely naked men in agony, the smell, the sounds of their groans, and laboured breathing going on for hours and, in some cases, for days was fresh in their minds. The Jewish community could not admit their Messiah was crucified like a criminal amongst other criminals. The gentiles could not accept the idea that the Saviour of the world was executed by the most horrible, painful, shameful, and ugly form of execution known to them at that time.
Someone wrote (I can’t remember who) that “sin is the poison that is killing and destroying the world and that the death of Jesus on the Cross is the antidote.” If asked, many Christians will say that Jesus had to die on the Cross for our sins. Most know there is a close connection between the Cross and human sin as this linking is firmly rooted in the New Testament. However, most Christians have a difficult time explaining why the death of Christ is the proper antidote for the poison of sin because they’ve never really come to grips with the poison. They know the correct answer, “Christ died for our sins,” but the answer seems superficial, hollow, and unconvincing when they respond. The loss of the general awareness of sin in culture over the past seventy-five years has resulted in a growing disconnect between the solution and the problem.
The idea of the Cross having any significance in a religious setting may have been scandalous to the Jewish people and silly to the Gentile, yet the Cross is the point of reference for the Christian faith. Christian faith is based upon it and judged by it. Christian theology, Christian worship, and Christian ethics stem from the Cross of Jesus. The Cross has meaning because of the significance of the person who was put to death on it and because of what his death accomplished.
Jesus went to the Cross to free us from the curse (Galatians 3:13), to reconcile us with God (Romans 10:5), and to save us from the consequence of sin (Romans 5:8). The Cross is the answer to the problem of sin, but very few people understand what the problem is or seem bothered by it? Can you take this time during this Lenten season to reflect on the poison you knowingly partake of even though it is offensive to yourself, those around you, and to God? Will you look to Jesus, the antidote, who wants to make you the human being you were created to be at the start of God’s plan.