Read: Galatians 5:1-12
Consider: In today’s reading from Galatians the Apostle Paul speaks of the freedom we have in Christ – a freedom that should not be given up by a slavish adherence to rules and regulations. The Galatians were being led astray by false teachers, who were requiring the male believers to be circumcised in accordance with the Jewish Law. Paul reminds them: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). Paul then goes on to say: Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is required to obey the whole law (5:3).
Later in the passage Paul says: In that case the offence of the cross has been abolished (5:11). Why should the cross offend people? Firstly, many people cannot accept that they are in need of God’s forgiveness and that the cross is the only way to achieve this. Secondly, people cannot understand how someone dying on a cross could possibly be the means of their salvation. Thirdly, society generally sees the promise of eternal life as being the result of living a good life, where their good and bad deeds are weighed up and they ‘hope’ that the balance tips in their favour. Lastly, society’s unbalanced image of a loving God (where his justice is ignored), leads them to believe that God couldn’t possibly punish people for their sin. A Christian writer has said that the cross offends aesthetically (as a symbol of punishment it offends good taste), it offends intellectually (it just does not make sense) and it offends our pride (surely good deeds are sufficient).
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he says: 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 (1 Corinthians 1:18). Paul knew that the Jews and Gentiles had different reactions to the cross when he says: ‘… 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 (1:23-24).
As it is written: ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame’ (Romans 9:33).
When you share the good news of the gospel with others, do not be surprised by the reactions of those who are offended by the cross. Pray that the Holy Spirit may be working in them, so that they come to see Jesus dying on the cross in their place, as the means for their forgiveness and salvation.
Thank you for the cross, Lord
Thank you for the price you paid
Bearing all my sin and shame
In love you came
And gave amazing grace.
Thank you for this love, Lord
Thank you for the nail pierced hands
Washed me in your cleansing flow
Now all I know
Your forgiveness and embrace
(Darlene Joyce Zschech )
Pray: Father, we thank you for the cross that shows us your love and grace in action. In the brutality and gruesomeness of the cross may we never forget the price willingly paid by your Son, Jesus Christ, to bring about our forgiveness and salvation. Amen
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