1 Corinthians 1:18-25
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
In this passage God is turning wisdom and foolishness upside down.
A bit of history helps us understand what Paul is saying. This passage was written to people in Corinth – in Greece – in the heyday of Greek philosophy and oratory, when there were highly trained speakers on street corners trying to persuade people with their wise words. The Jewish world also focussed on wisdom – the teachers of the law were deemed to be incredibly wise and were highly esteemed. So, both Gentile and Jewish people were wrapped up in human wisdom. But God decided (in his wisdom) that human wisdom was not the way to salvation.
God’s way to salvation was to send his Son to die a shameful, degrading death. Crucifixion was a punishment reserved for the lowest of the low. It was so shameful that ‘nice’ people didn’t even mention the word ‘cross’. It is easy to see why the message of the gospel seemed like madness. Not much has changed! In our society today many people consider ‘reason’ as the ultimate wisdom and they too see the cross as ridiculous. But for us who believe the cross represents power, salvation and the love of God.
Why did God do it this way? So that salvation did not depend on us. We are saved through humility and complete dependence on God – not through the wisdom of people, but by the Holy Spirit. Nothing compares to the wisdom and power of God.
Heavenly Father, thank you that you are so wise. Thank you that you gave us a way to be saved. Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me. Thank you that what seemed foolish to people brought freedom, blessing and eternal life. Please help me to always keep the right perspective – to always depend on you. Amen
Written by Megan Cornell