A Note from Pastor Rall: Christ Crucified

The epistle reading for this week from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1Cor. 1:18-31) highlights St. Paul’s passion for keeping the cross in the center of the Gospel.  As foolish as that message seemed to the Greek and Roman culture in which he carried out his mission work, he refused to compromise the message of Christ crucified for he knew it was the very wisdom and power of God to bring salvation to all of mankind.

A woman in Denver walked into a jewelry stone because she wanted to purchase a small gold cross.  The man behind the counter looked over the stock in his display case and asked her, “Do you want a plain one, or one with the little man on it?”  That might be funny if it were not so sad.  Even though the cross is seen everywhere, it is so frequently misunderstood.  Many people might wear the cross without even knowing the message it proclaims.

St. Paul knew that even though the cross seemed like foolishness or weakness to many people, it was the very heart of the good news.  If there is no cross, then there is no Gospel.  God Himself chose this way of the cross to confound what many think is wise or powerful.  It is not reason that can appreciate the cross, but faith.  There we comprehend the length and breadth and height and depth of God’s love that He would send His Son to suffer and die to win forgiveness and salvation for all.  The cross also demonstrates the horror of our sin that Jesus would need to be our substitute, to bear our punishment that we might be set free.

There is a story about a small English village that had a chapel whose stone walls were covered with ivy.  The arch over the main door to this chapel had the carved inscription, “We Preach Christ Crucified”.  But the ivy grew and spread and eventually covered the last word, so people could only see “We Preach Christ”.  And as time passed they did preach Christ – the example, the leader, the teacher.  More time passed and the ivy grew until those who entered could only see the words “We Preach”.  And so they did preach – economics, social activism, policies, and book reviews.

While this story might be only a parable, it is a sad commentary on many churches today who have avoided the teaching of the cross because they don’t want to talk about sin.  If there is no problem with sin, then you don’t need the cross.  But if sin still exists and the Law still convicts us, then we will always need to hear about a Savior who was crucified for us.  So we preach Christ crucified, the power and wisdom of God.

…Pastor Rall