The Foolishness of the Cross

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians  1 : 18
Subject: Lord's Supper; Cross of Christ

I Corinthians 1:18: "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."

A Young reporter waxed dramatic about a coal mine cave-in some years ago. He wrote, "God looked at the grief in our town this week and he wept." The editor sent him a note saying, "Forget the cave-in at the coal mine; interview God."

What if we could interview God, what would we ask Him, or more importantly, what would He say? What question would you pose to Him?

It is likely that what ever your question, the Father would rotate the conversation to the death of Jesus at the cross. You might wonder how I know what God would talk about. Well, I read what He had to say throughout human history and I note that His theme has been the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross time and time again.

In Genesis 3 He spoke of it when He told the serpent that He would bruise the heel of the seed of woman, but that Seed would crush his head.

In Exodus the cross is seen in the blood upon the door. That blood caused the death angel to pass over the beleivers - those who had faith in God's promise through the blood.

Jesus and the cross is seen in the serpent that Moses was ordered to place upon a pole in the wilderness. Those who looked upon that serpent by faith, lived. In the New Testament, Jesus told Nicodemus that the serpent on that pole was precursor to the old rugged cross.

And so it continues from Genesis to Isaiah and on into the New Testament. God elevates the theme of the cross, for it is that great act of love, sacrifice and mercy that paid the way for our redemption.

It is interesting also to note just how much space is taken up in the gospels dealing with the death of Jesus. Clarence E. Macartney, in his book “The Faith Once Delivered,” points out that most biographers spend very little space on the death of the person highlighted in their books. For example, he states that Nicolay and Hay wrote a huge study on the life of Abraham Lincoln covering over 5,000 pages. In that work only 25 pages were devoted to the death of the great president. In a biography of Daniel Webster the author wrote 863 pages, but used only 5 to tell of his death.

Consider the New Testament and what God had to say about the death of His Son.

i. Matthew

Matthew spent one third of his text to describe the death of Jesus.

ii. Mark

Mark also used a third of his writing in reference to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

iii. Luke

Luke used up a fourth of his gospel on the sacrificial death of Jesus.

iv. John

John used at least one half of his gospel to discuss the death of Jesus and the surrounding story.

Oh yes, God would talk about the cross!

It is further interesting to note that the matter which concerns the Lord the most is considered to be foolish and offensive to so many people. That is what Paul says in our text and in Galatians 5:11. He speaks of the offense of the cross! Surely you might think that the cross is not offensive today. After all we see the cross in our cemeteries, beautifully displayed on top of churches and even as jewelry to adorn people. But don't be fooled by the abundance of the images of the cross, for it is the message of the cross is still considered foolish and offensive.

A leader of a church group said recently that Jesus was only an example and that no one could go to heaven through the death of another. A leader in the National Council of Churches stated in an interview that he would not want to go to heaven on the back of another man, even if it was Jesus! Some churches have actually purged their hymnbooks of the blood message because they consider the gospel of salvation through the blood of the cross offensive!

Why are people bothered by the cross? Why do some consider it foolish? Note three reasons this morning before we receive the Lord's Supper.

I. The Cross Reveals the Wickedness of Our Sins

The cross is a picture of what sin looks like to God. Christ became sin for us and the death of Jesus reveals the measure necessary to deal with the issue. God dealt with sin at the cross, so a look at the cross tells us what God thinks of our sins. Some people just cannot deal with the truth that is shown at the cross. There at Calvary, Jesus paid for our sins with his blood.

I heard about a lady who was shopping the other day and accidentally pulled out her blood donor card and gave it to the clerk to pay for her purchases. The clerk said, "Ma'am, that really isn't necessary, money would be just fine." Not so with God. The only thing that would pay for the forgiveness of our sins is the blood.

Our sins are not mere weaknesses, they are wickedness.

They are not mere flaws in our personalities, they are mortal faults in our person. Look at the cross and see your sins!

II. The Cross Reveals the Weakness of Our Service

Our best service is so short of the mark that the cross is the only means of making us right with God. If human works were able to redeem us, God did not need to send His Son to die in our place. The presence of Jesus on earth and especially His presence on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem those long years ago, reveals that no works or deeds have the power to save us.

God makes this plain in His Word. He points out to us that our good deeds are filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). That is a startling truth that many simply cannot accept. Whether we like it or not, our works are not enough to please the Lord. God did not say that our evil works are filthy to Him, but even our good deeds are totally short of ever pleasing Him without the cross. When it comes to providing forgiveness of sins, only the cross, only the blood of Jesus will ever do! Look at the cross and see what value your best deeds are worth when they stand alone before God. This message is foolish to the world, but it is the power of God to those who are being saved.

Once in a while you will hear someone say, "Well, I think I'll go to heaven; I'm much better than the people around me everyday." Can a person go to heaven by being better than another? Well, let's see! If you are as good, pure and holy as Jesus, yes you can go to heaven without a redeemer. But, hold on a minute! "There is none righteous, no not one!" The Bible tells us that not one single person, other than Jesus alone, has been, is or ever will be perfect - without sin. So, God never set up a system whereby you can go to heaven for your good works. There is no other way to heaven except by the cross. The old songwriter penned, "I must needs go home by the way of the cross; there's no other way but this!" Yes, that is absolutely true.

Note also that ...

III. The Cross Reveals the Way of Self-Denial

The cross offends because it calls for self-denial. We don't like to deny ourselves anything that we deeply desire. Yet, Jesus said, "Take up your cross and follow me." That is a call to self-denial and many people see such a request by the Lord as pure foolishness.

A woman went into a store and tried on a dress that she really liked. She knew that the dress was too small but she hoped that somehow she might be able to wear it. She held herself in with all her might and slipped the dress over her head. She asked the clerk what she thought. The clerk looked at her all squeezed into that small dress and said, "Well, it looks a little crowded." It is not just a little crowded but very crowded when we try to fit self and the cross into our lives. We don't like the cross because we are called upon to give up self to make room for the Christ of the cross and the self-denying message we discover there.

We should never be offended by the Cross!  Our precious Lord bore that cross for us. Let us deny our own works and accept the work of the cross. Let us admit our sins and ask forgiveness through His blood. Let us deny ourselves, take up our cross and bear it for Him!


In Isaiah 53:2 we read that “There is no beauty that I should desire Him (Jesus)." Even the prophecies about Jesus pointed out that the Savior on the cross would be offensive and foolish to the world. You can be sure of this, the only way to come to God is by way of the Cross. Jesus died there for our sins and no other path is available for us to be saved. Perhaps that is the thing that troubles people the most. They don’t like to be told that there is only one way to God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.”

Looking at the cross we note how much God loves us. His one and only Son died there for you and for me. All of us have sinned and we all come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but God loves us so much that He gave His Son to redeem us and grant us eternal life (John 3:16).

Before we receive the Lord’s Supper this day, perhaps that is someone in this service, or maybe several people here, who need to come to Christ. You see, the Lord’s Supper is for those who have trusted Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus set forth this ordinance as a remembrance that we no one comes to the Father and salvation except through the sacrifice that was made for us through the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Even those of us who are saved will do well to renew our commitment to our Lord before we place the bread and cup to our lips.

Now let us respond to Him. Never be ashamed of the cross! Let us adore the Redeemer. Now we will sing and make our commitments.