Absurd as it sounds, a crucified and risen Christ can save the world. Here’s how the gospel works.
The Christian gospel centers on the crucified and risen Christ.
Naturally, first Century Jews rejected it. First Century Romans ridiculed it. And modern day thinkers laugh at it.
So, could this ridiculous and absurd message ever really save the world?
The Story of the Sobbing Young Man
Imagine you are a first century Christian who earns his living as a fisherman. One day you go out in the boat with eight other fishermen–some young, some old.
When you stop for lunch during the late morning, you swallow hard, wipe your hands on your pants and do the unthinkable–tell the small crowd about the crucified and risen Christ.
Heads cock. Jaws drop. Some snicker.
Your best friend tells you to shut up. Despite the heat of the sun, parched throat or hostile glares, you keep going.
When you finish, all you can hear are waves slapping the side of the boat. An old man shoves his lunch under his seat. Another stands to untangle the net. Under their breath someone says, “Moron.”
But back of the boat is a young man, lying face down, his hands over his face. He’s sobbing. And can’t stop.
The Extravagant and Sick Superstition
Paul didn’t have any delusions about the gospel. He knew it sounded crazy.
Crucifixion was a repulsive and humiliating way to die. Romans reserved it for troublemakers. Jews demanded it for blasphemers and idolaters.
Naturally, non-Jews called the Christian gospel an extravagant superstition–a sick delusion. It was an obscene absurdity to believe in someone who died and rose from the dead.
But Paul preached it anyway. Why? Because he knew that to those who were being saved it was the power of God.
The Fundamental Issue of the Gospel
Man, by wisdom, cannot know God. So the fundamental issue for Paul was not wisdom…but power.
The fact is, if God didn’t sovereignly open the eyes of the spiritually blind, no one would ever see. If God didn’t sovereignly draw sinners to Christ, none would ever come.
What the Gospel Is All About
One day we’ll all stand before God the judge and we’ll discover the gospel message goes to the profound and eternal issue: God is holy and just, and we’re not.
We are damned. That’s why the young man in the boat was crying.
Th basic message of the Gospel is about rescuing people from damnation through a Galilean peasant who was crucified during the Passover feast…and quietly raised from the dead three days later.
He did for us what we could not do for ourselves: he lived in perfect obedience and sinlessness.
Irrational and contradictory? Irrational, maybe. Contradictory, no.
Why the Christian Gospel Isn’t a Contradiction
If we said God raised Jesus from the dead but Jesus’ bones were still in the grave, then the message would be contradictory.
But Jesus’ bones are not in his grave.
Quite frankly, the message lacks logic. A whiteboard won’t even help you understand the logic behind the saving grace of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
It’s not like explaining how water runs down hill.
The death and resurrection just is. The fact alone stands because it is beyond our comprehension. But the fact alone won’t save you.
The Deceptively Low Cost of the Gospel
The gift of justification and eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus is a gift. Seems like something we can take for granted.
But that’s a mistake.
For God to forgive you is in fact a costly thing. It cost the life of his son. And to demonstrate how much God valued this cost, God raised his son from the dead.
Furthermore, the Gospel message doesn’t exalt our minds or advertise our talents.
What it does is force us to fall on our knees and acknowledge our weakness, our dependence, our terrible need.
It costs everything and teaches us that nothing is ours.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t earn salvation by your works, deeds or efforts. You can’t think your way into it.
Here’s what the message of the gospel does: it sinks human pride. It reminds us that our life did not start with our choosing God but his choosing us.
So yes, this ridiculous and absurd message can save the world. But for some, the intellectual price of admitting ignorance is too high a cost.
What about you…too high of a cost? Or just flat out ridiculous?
**Part of the Curmudgeon’s Guide to Sharing Your Faith series.**