Sermon: “We Preach Christ Crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:18–25)
In the previous passage, Paul addressed the growing divisions within the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 1:10–17). Why, though, have those divisions arisen? More importantly, what is the antidote to those divisions? As Paul moves into his next section, he makes clear that much of what stands behind their quarreling is the desire to be wise according to the standards of this age and this world. This world admires those who build the tallest towers of human learning, as though human wisdom could assist humanity to climb their way up to God. Fundamentally, this was the same sin committed by the builders of the Tower of Babel, but this desire to be wise goes all the way back to the Fall itself: “So when the woman saw…that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:6). The desire to seek wisdom apart from God has been the fundamental characteristic of human sin from the beginning.
Against this human arrogance, Paul holds up the shameful, scornful, despised cross. Jesus prayed to avoid the cross (Mark 14:36), and Jesus knew that he could demand that his father send twelve legions of angels to his defense at any moment (Matt. 26:53). Nevertheless, he submitted to the cross in obedience all the way to death, even when his Father forsook him (Matt. 27:46). He did not seek his own human will, according to the wisdom of his human nature, but he submitted to the will of his divine Father. In doing so, the cross became the power of God unto salvation for all those who believe. In 1 Corinthians 1:18–25, Paul explains how God calls fools to faith through the folly of the cross.