This month’s letter to Hall Gate. For information, we’ve been preaching through Mark’s Gospel and we’ve reached chapter 12.
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. 1 Corinthians 1.18
In our journey through Mark’s Gospel we have come with Jesus and the disciples into the gates of Jerusalem. We’ve seen him come into conflict with the religious authorities over issues of authority, taxes and the resurrection. In all these things Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of the temple system and shows how he will be the ultimate answer to their abuses.
In all these things the shadow of the cross is looming large. In the chapters leading up to his entrance into Jerusalem, Jesus predicts his death three times. The disciples misunderstand him and puzzle over his words – Peter even attempts to dissuade Jesus – but now they’re in the temple confines, surely they’re beginning to realise the possibility of their teacher being taken from them?
From the disciples onwards, many people have tried to avoid the cross and all it means. Many would like to jump straight to the resurrection and not face the reality of Jesus’ death at the hands of the Romans. For Paul it was a real stumbling block to the Jews that he was preaching to. Anyone killed on a cross was cursed by God – how could he be the Messiah?
What was Paul’s solution? Was it to let the cross vanish from his preaching? Did he change the heart of the message to accommodate his hearers’ distaste? No, he resolved to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). He risked everything on the conviction that the cross was the place where God dealt finally with the sin of the world. It may seem like foolishness to the world but for those who believe it is the power of God.
As we move toward Easter and the cross looms ever larger, don’t avert your eyes. For without it there is no hope for us. Through the cross the wrath of God is satisfied, our sins are forgiven and our old lives are put to death. May this church be a place where we know the cross to be the power of God,
And to him alone be all the glory