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The Preaching of the Cross

“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.”

(1 Corinthians 1:18)

In the Name of Jesus, the resurrected Lord.  Amen.

How true these words of St. Paul are!  He is right.  To those who are perishing the very cross of Christ is foolishness, as is the preaching of that cross (see 1 Corinthians 1:23).  The very message through which God gives everlasting life is considered petty and useless.

Yet the preaching of Christ is the preaching of the very Gospel itself.  All who reject that message are perishing, for all who reject the preaching of Christ are rejecting Christ.

But to those who are being saved, the preaching of the cross, the preaching of Christ, is the power of God.  Those who are being saved are those who hear the Word and believe it, because it is God’s Word, and these continue in it, because they know it is not the word of man, but the very Word of God.

Thus does St. Paul write to the Christians in Thessalonica, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

These received the words of Paul as they were in truth, as God’s Word, because they were not Paul’s words, but God’s Word.  They saw Paul rightly, as God’s instrument through which God spoke.  And they received him and what he said, not because Paul was Paul, but because He spoke what was right and true.

Today’s pastors who preach Christ and Him crucified are indeed considered foolish.  They preach Him who suffered and died on the cursed cross for sins He did not commit.  They preach Him who was raised the third day.  They preach the forgiveness of sins as if we really have sins to be forgiven.  They preach that Christ is the only way, even if people don’t like to hear this message.  They preach of the blessed gifts of God in Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  They preach that salvation is only in Christ.  It is this that sinners are to hear.  Those who are perishing deny that this is the content of preaching.  But those who are being saved rejoice in God’s undeserved favor and blessing in Christ, for by it, they are certain of eternal life and peace with God (Romans 5:1).  Amen.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, do not look upon the hardness of my heart or my neglect of Your most precious Word.  Forgive me for considering the preaching of Christ through Your chosen instruments as foolishness and not worthy of my full attention.  Grant me to believe that it is through such preaching that you save those who believe, that I glory only in Christ and rejoice alone in His gifts and not at all in my merit.  Amen.

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