#444 (23/9/21) - TRUE POWER AND WISDOM (1 COR. 1:22-24)
This week our devotions are based on 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.
'Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but 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 Corinthians 1:22-24)
Different people want different kinds of evidence as to the truth of whether there is a God and who God is. When I was exploring the Christian faith, I wanted to see something that would prove that God - who is invisible - was real. I wanted my questions about the Bible and suffering etc. answered so that I could understand and see that it made sense.
Paul speaks of Jews demanding ‘signs’ and Greeks looking for ‘wisdom’ so as to be convinced about spiritual things.
LOOKING FOR SIGNS
‘Signs’ are great miraculous acts. The Jews of Jesus’ day kept asking for signs to prove His identity. Moses had given them signs to prove to them that God was sending Him to bring them out of slavery and now they wanted Jesus to do the same. On one occasion, we read,
‘Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ (Matthew 12:38-40)
Here, Jesus is saying that the principal sign that He is the Son of God and Saviour is His death and resurrection. This concurs with What Paul says in today’s text: ‘Jews demand signs … but we preach Christ crucified’. This is not to dismiss miracles. We do pray for miracles that show the reality of God as we read in Acts,
“So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.” (Acts 14:3)
However, God wants you and I to know that signs do not Save! A person becomes a Christian through the miracle of regeneration, which is brought about by the message of the cross. Miracles can create a following; miracles can create a hearing; however, miracles cannot save! Signs need to be followed up with the preaching of the gospel.
On top of this, the Jews were offended at a weak and suffering Messiah and wanted a Messiah with power and so were offended at Christ. He’s a stumbling block to Jews because Jesus was not the triumphant king that many were expecting. They were expecting a David-like character.
To add to this, being ‘hung on a tree’ was a sign of being cursed by God. (Dt 21:23; Gal 3:13).
So, in summary, Jesus is not the kind of Saviour that the Jews were expecting and He’s not the kind of Saviour that many of our friends think that they need.
LOOKING FOR WISDOM
Referring to the second group of people, he says that ‘Greeks look for Wisdom’. Regarding this wisdom-seeking culture we read of the Athenians,
‘All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.’ (Acts 17:21)