A Man Hanging on a Tree
If, as Christians confess, the cross is the place where we see God revealed most fully, then we need to reconsider all of our assumptions and statements about God in light of what happens to Jesus, the man “hanging on the tree”
Put yourself in the place of Jesus’ disciples during and just after his crucifixion. What are some emotions you might experience? How would this event affect your faith and your sense of the future?
Now imagine hearing that Jesus has been raised. How would you react? How would this affect your view of the cross and your ideas about how God works int he world?
What are some adjectives you might use to describe God? What kind of picture of God do these words offer? How are these words shaped by what you see in Jesus’ cross and resurrection?
What difference does it make to remember that God, in Jesus knows what it is like to be human?
1 Corinthians 1:18-2:2
For the message about the cross is foolishness to 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, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
What does Paul mean by saying that “the message about the cross is foolishness” and a “stumbling block”? What about the cross is startling, scandalous, or troubling to you?
God was at work through the cross. Why was this so unexpected for those living in Paul’s time? In what ways is it unexpected or surprising in our own time?
Why do you think Paul links the “lowliness” of the cross to the humble natures of the people to whom he is writing?