The Apostle Paul in his opening words to the Corinthians defines humanity into two categories, two destinies: “For the word of the cross is folly (foolishness) to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (I Cor. 1:18).”  His basis for such a claim was one’s response to the message of the cross, specifically that God was in Christ as the exclusive payment for our sins and the only path to reconciliation with the God. Later in I Corinthians, Paul would summarize the gospel in this way: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (I Cor. 15:3,4).”

In our reading of the Gospels, we should make return visits to Golgotha and remember that our sin put Him on those beams.  Martin Luther once said, “I feel like Jesus only died yesterday,” which was Luther’s reflection on the events of Good Friday long ago. Good Friday is an important time to pause and remember that day in which Jesus hung for six hours, from 9:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon. For nearly 400 minutes Jesus Christ was suspended between earth and heaven as a once-for-all payment for sins. 

Some are hostile to this message of God’s redeeming love. In many quarters, the mention of Jesus’ name is met with rejection out-of-hand. Others ignore it as insignificant in a progressive world of sophisticated advance. Some yawn at the gospel and view it as an old story that has little relevance to their lives. Many try to assimilate the message of Christ crucified into a muddled personal belief system that insists that there are many ways to God. 

I am reminded of Erwin Lutzer’s conversation with a woman on a plane.  He noticed that she was wearing a cross necklace. Hoping to talk about the Lord, he said to her, “Thanks for wearing that cross. We do have a wonderful Savior, don’t we?”  She rolled her eyes and responded, “Well, I don’t think of the cross like you do. Just look at this.” She showed him that beneath the cross was the Jewish Star of David, and beneath that was a trinket that symbolized the Hindu god Om. She said to him, “I’m in social work, and I’ve discovered that people find God in different ways. Christianity is but one path to the divine.” 

This woman would no doubt have received a hearty “Amen” from Oprah Winfrey who once said, “One of the biggest mistakes humans make is to believe there is only way. Actually, there are many diverse paths leading to what you call God.”  This message may be popular, but it defies the teaching of Jesus who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).” 

The preaching of the cross is foolishness (moronic) to those who are perishing. To perish doesn’t mean you get a little less piece of the pie at the judgment. No, it means eternal loss, eternal perishing. The teaching of Jesus on hell is stunning. 

However, for those of us who embrace the message of the cross and trust Jesus Christ, this is where we find forgiveness and hope. It is the power of God for the life we live, the death we die, and eternity to come. Friday’s cross followed by Sunday’s empty tomb is the reason that Jesus Christ is our hope.  And that is why we say, “God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14).”