The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” Isaiah 29:13-14
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. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” I Corinthians 1:18-19
Paul’s point in this passage is that God’s wisdom – God’s plan – to save the world through Jesus’ sacrifice made by dying on the cross for the sins of the world, was foolishness to unbelievers of the gentiles, and was unbelievable by Jewish Scholars. The Jewish teachers of the law were searching for and hoping for a triumphant king who would establish an earthly kingdom similar to King David’s. The Romans and Greeks believed anyone who was crucified was the most despised criminal and not able to save anyone. Paul says,
“but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength,” I Corinthians 1:23-25.
If you look at the crucifixion accounts in Matthew 27:39-44, Mark 15:29-32, and Luke 23:35-36 you will find that passersby (together with soldiers and Jewish priests) all taunted Jesus to come down off the cross and save himself, if he truly was the Messiah. Yet, Isaiah told us of the suffering servant:
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6.
Jesus’ ministry was one of healing – He healed lepers, the blind, the deaf, the disabled, the mentally ill, and the demon possessed. He taught and ministered to the ordinary people, to the ill, to prostitutes, to criminals, to Samaritans, and to tax collectors. When Jesus encountered the Jewish scholars, they spent their time questioning Jesus’ motives, his methodology, his genealogy, and his choice of disciples. His time on earth culminated in His sacrifice – dying on the cross,
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord,” I Corinthians 1:27-31, Jeremiah 9:24.
How has God used someone the world might consider foolish, weak, ill, or less fortunate in your life to teach you about how much God loves everyone and desires all to know, love and serve Him? Thank God today that He welcomes everyone – children, fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, the mentally ill, and every sort of sinner to follow him, to confess their need for a savior, and to give him their heart and be a part of the Kingdom of God.