The message of the cross of Christ has always been a message that both saves and offends. There are people who are offended by the cross, while there are others who experience the saving power of the cross.
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18
Why is the cross offensive? After all, surely the message that God sent His Son to die for our sins is good news for all? Why would anyone be offended by such an offer of grace?
It is our desperate need for the cross of Christ that makes the Christian message offensive. We need the cross, because we have no power within ourselves to save ourselves – salvation is beyond our human powers. This can be deeply offensive when people want to be proud of their own achievements. There are people who want to be saved, want to be accepted before God, but they don’t want Jesus to make them right with God. Such people want to be able to boast before God of their own achievements. They want their own merit to be good enough. That is exactly how each and every one of us was before we came to Christ. We may have had good desires to be pleasing to God, but we wanted to do it in our own power so we get the glory. We must each face the reality that we are in desperate need, we have been seperated from God, and only Christ can bring us back! Therefore, the glory for our salvation belongs to God!
The cross of Christ tells us that we have nothing to boast of before God. No amount of religion or good works can replace our need for a Saviour. The cross shows us that even despite all our best efforts, we cannot do enough to be cleansed from our sin. The Son of God had to come and sacrifice Himself on our behalf – without Him we have no hope. That is offensive for those who don’t think they need Jesus.
Who were the people who were most offended by Jesus? The religious! The very people who boasted of their own religious works, were the very ones who were offended by Jesus. They were offended because Jesus clearly showed them that their man-centred religion which depended on human power, was empty.
The cross continues to offend people today. However, the cross doesn’t only offend – it saves with power those who believe! Just like a dead man cannot do anythying to lift himself from the grave, so too, no spritually dead person can rise unless the power of God raises them from the dead. Jesus is alive, and all who put their trust in Him, are made alive by His divine power.
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” – John 20:30-31
Don’t be offended by the cross. Don’t let your pride stop you from seeing your need for a Saviour. Come to Christ, and experience the power of His saving work!