“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
Oxymoron, one of the great words within the English language you use as often as you can just because it is fun to say. The word oxymoron is a term that is used to describe words or phrases used in conjunction that seem to be contradictory. The title of this article is a great example of an oxymoron, “Comforting cross.” How can something so dismal as a cross be portrayed as comforting? The title is two words that are contradictory, yet appear in conjunction. For the remainder of this article we will focus on the cross and then close by illustrating how it can be comforting.
A cross is an object that is constructed with the intent to harm and eventually kill whoever or whatever is attached to it. Its ultimate cause of death is by asphyxiation, the depriving of air to the lungs. There is inherently nothing attractive or beautiful about a cross. The cross is a symbol of torture, bloodshed, cruelty and judgment, yet Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth mentions, "… the preaching of the cross … ." With all the cross stands for and symbolizes, is it really appropriate to be preached? The answer is yes!
Why does something so dismal as the cross seem to bring peace, comfort, joy and hope to all who chose to believe the story of THE cross? It is because of who was crucified on the cross. The Bible promised through the prophets of the Old Testament that a Messiah would come. Speaking of Jesus, Scriptures identify him as “the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world.” Jesus, God incarnate, without blemish, had to die for the sins of all mankind. He did so on the cross, and thus the message of the Gospel — the death, the burial and the resurrection — is started.
Paul indicates in this verse there are some who will find this “preaching of the cross” to be foolishness. Those who reject the message of the Gospel consider its content and its application to be foolishness. Scripture reminds us, though, that this message is available for anyone to believe and that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The opposite of perishing, as mentioned in the opening verse, is the concept of being saved. The salvation of ones soul is simply a heart condition. The Bible says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
These verses illustrate how something so dismal such as a cross can bring comfort. The thought, that God set aside his glory and came to this earth to suffer and to die on a cross. Then he was buried and rose again three days later conquering death, hell, and the grave obtaining eternal redemption for all those who would believe in him. As Paul says in the opening verse for those that believe this is our power. Only God could take something so dismal and despised as a cross and create something that could bring such comfort to every man, woman, boy and girl.
In closing, I encourage you to meditate on the words of this old Hymn:
1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suffering and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
2. O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
has a wondrous attraction for me;
for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above
to bear it to dark Calvary.
3. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see,
for 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
to pardon and sanctify me.
4. To that old rugged cross I will ever be true,
its shame and reproach gladly bear;
then he'll call me some day to my home far away,
where his glory forever I'll share.
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.
Tim Braddock is pastor of Emerald Coast Baptist Church in Miramar Beach and can be reached at Tbraddock@emeraldcoastbc.com.