Here’s repetition for you! Please be patient! The Lord’s Supper is not a funeral occasion. Let’s put an end to that sad, gloomy, funereal atmosphere and allow it to be what Paul calls it: an ANNOUNCEMENT, a PROCLAMATION.
Paul said the cross was an offense to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. But there was good reason for Jews to take offense. And there was good reason for Greeks (Gentiles) to think it nonsense IF…….
There is no way to make the crucifixion of Jesus Christ into (saving) power or wisdom! The Jews were promised deliverance and their Messiah ended up hung by the powers that held Israel captive. The rational and practical thinkers saw another hanging of another young man—an event like thousands of other events, dictated by the powerful; an event that might or might not have happened. This event had no cosmic value—it was just another death like a million others!
There is no gospel in the hanging of that young man if there was no resurrection! And since there was no resurrection it was just another of the countless illustrations that the legionnaires or the jackbooted, the spear or the gun, the arrows or the nukes have the power. You can’t get wisdom and power from the Roman killing of a young man who claimed to be the one who would deliver his people from Rome (and more). The cross is an offense precisely because the one who was hung is said to be the LORD! He cannot be the Lord if death ends Him! It makes no manner of sense!  If He was the Lord then the cross couldn’t have happened! That’s what Peter said in Matthew 16. And he was wrong—dead wrong!
Unless the hanging death of that young man is inseparably linked to the resurrection of that young man we cannot understand it as some divine way of dealing with humanity! Only the resurrection to deathless life can defeat Death! Only the resurrection to deathless life can lead us to look at the young man hanging there and invest His death with “deeper magic.” When Paul calls it God’s (saving) power he is speaking of it with the resurrection in mind precisely because without the resurrection it is not wisdom or power! Without the resurrection ”we have nothing to believe and we have nothing to preach” (1 Corinthians 15:14-19). Without the resurrection the apostles are liars when they said God raised Him!  If Jesus remains dead, our hope is fatuous, our sins weren’t dealt with, of all people we are most miserable because we have been duped worse than all others and all our beloved ones who died trusting Christ have perished and all hope dies with physical death. If Christ is still dead and has been dead for 2,000 years then the cross was precisely what everyone thought it was—another pathetic failure.
Without the resurrection the claim of salvation through His death is sheer nonsense! Paul was right in saying the cross was the “deep magic” of a redeeming God but only if he believed in the resurrection of Jesus. The cross did not show God as faithful to His promises and purposes, the cross did not bring salvation without the resurrection! The jeering crowds and the shouted scorn made perfect sense! This was “weakness” and “failure” and they were right to reject Him unless there was the resurrection that transformed what was transparent weakness and not power into the way God dealt with Sin & Death. (Jesus Himself said people were to reject false Messiahs.) If Jesus didn’t rise deathless He was just another liar like Theudas of Galilee!
Jesus’ resurrection was not a resurrection that led to a few more years of life before that young man got to be old and finally died as everyone else grew old and feeble and dead (as Lazaruses’ was—John 12:1, 9). That kind of “resurrection”—however it might have come about—is no defeat of Death; it is/would be only some bizarre postponement. And if Death still reigns so does Sin because Sin reigns through death (Romans 5:21) and the sting of Death is Sin (1 Corinthians 15:56) and the wages of Sin is Death (Romans 6:23).
Paul says the truth didn’t come by wise men and their reasoning. “Eye hasn’t seen nor has ear heard nor has it entered into the heart of man” (1 Corinthians 2:9 and context, 6—16) is a denial that humans could have come up with the “deep magic”. The only way what happened in the person of the crucified Jesus could be grasped as what it truly was, was by Christ’s resurrection to Death-killing life. The realities (His life, death and resurrection) preceded the words (gospel) that were based on those realities. The gospel committed to the chosen witnesses made the realities known and that gospeling therefore made known the powerful redeeming God’s truth and so was the medium through which salvation came to all (1 Corinthians 1:21; Romans 10;14-17). Without the resurrection there was no gospel; the words have no power in themselves. They only have power if indeed the resurrection truly happened and Sin and Death were thus conquered.
The cross is only power and wisdom if the resurrection tells us that! Once the resurrection is known and embraced to be true THEN the cross is seen for what it is—God entering into the world in weakness and vulnerability (Romans 8:3; 2 Corinthians 13:4; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Corinthians 15:43, 45) with a redeeming purpose because He had promised (Romans 1:1-4, 16). And He didn’t fail (Colossians 2:15)! But we only know all that because Jesus rose everlastingly triumphant over Sin & Death.
The resurrection enables us to make of the cross what it really was—The sovereign God and our Father entering with us into the realm of creaturely weakness to deliver us from weakness and Sin and Death (Romans 8:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:50). Without the resurrection that could not be known. No wishing, no shrewd talk, no philosophy or argument, no tender whispered words could make anything of it but nonsense. The world with all its wisdom (and there are wise men and women in the world) just can’t make sense of it. It still remains impossible to make the crucifixion anything other than sheer foolishness and another exhibition of fleshly powerlessness unless God raised Jesus from the dead! He not only died in the flesh, He died to it and rose in glory so that we who bore the image of the one from dust would bear the image of the one from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:47-49).
We MUST keep the cross at the center of God’s dealing with humanity’s desperate plight but we mustn’t stop at the cross! The Gospels all go their own way in dealing with the life of Christ until the crucifixion but they all end, not with the cross, but with the resurrection. Christ died 2,000 years ago but He hasn’t been dead since—He’s alive! And those who teach us must make that clear! Paul’s constant message was “the sufferings of Christ and the glory that follows” (Romans 4:25; 8:34; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; Acts 26:22-23; see also 1 Peter 1:11, 21; 3:21). In Romans 5:10 Paul says we are reconciled to God by His Son’s death and “much more having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life.” (His resurrection—Philippians 3:20-21.) See Romans 8:17 and 8:29 and our conformity to our Lord!
God deliver us from ending the gospel proclamation with the (saving) death of our Lord Jesus Christ. The cross was the glorious door to the everlastingly glorious resurrection (read John 10:17 carefully). God is about LIFE!

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About Jim McGuiggan

Jim McGuiggan was Ethel's husband for fifty-three years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. Ethel went to be with Christ on Easter Sunday, 2009 at the close of a gallant life. He has written some books including: Celebrating the Wrath of God; Heading Home with God; Life on the Ash Heap; Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul; The God of the Towel, The Scarlet Letter; and The Dragon Slayer.