The Message of the Cross – Revisited

message

1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV  “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.”

Many years ago, when I was just a new and inexperienced Christian, I belonged to a young Adult Youth Group at a Canadian Armed Forces base just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, that was mentored by a young Corporal ( John Stennett ) who is now a retired Anglican Priest and a retired Master Warrant Officer from the Canadian Armed Forces named Bruce Pringle, who is now with the Lord. Because my name was also Bruce, Bruce Pringle went by the name of “Bruce Senior” and I became “Bruce Junior”.

Bruce Senior was a very down to earth man, he’d been through some difficult times and had three children that he was raising by himself at that time. Not only was Bruce very patient and accommodating to us new Christians but he was also quite intelligent. Bruce’s mother had been a Christian and after Bruce had gone the way of the world, he later returned to the faith that his mother had witnessed to him as a youth. He had spent a lot of time investigating questions that we all had and he was a serious student of God’s Word. Not only did Bruce “talk the talk” but he also “walked the walk”. I dearly miss him.

One of the things that we did as a group every once is a while was go into Ottawa with a man named Len Perciphal (not sure if I have that spelled correctly) who had taken his truck and written a whole bunch of Bible verses on it, and we would “preach” on a street corner in the city of Ottawa. I remember Bruce telling us how a man had come up to him at one of these “preaching” events and said to him, “You look like an intelligent individual, how is it that you are associated with this foolishness?” Bruce responded, “I am associated with what you perceive as foolishness, precisely because I am an intelligent man.”

Because I used to also think that anyone who “believed in the Bible” or had “become caught up in this religion thing”, had somehow lost touch with reality, I am aware of the thoughts that can go through an unbeliever’s mind when the foolishness of the message of the cross is presented. These thoughts go something like what I have paraphrased below, they may differ a bit but the essence of some of the thoughts go something like this:

  • These people actually believe that the Bible is God’s Word. Come on, everybody knows it’s just a bunch of fables.
  • These people have taken the story of Jesus and have become fanatical about it. They’ve really lost touch with reality.
  • Believing in God is one thing but these people are taking this way too far.
  • Science has already explained to us how what you see is what you get, these people are believing these things because they want to believe it, not because it’s actually true.
  • I’m suspecting that most of them are probably a little on the simple side, not the brightest collection of humanity.

I could argue each of the aforementioned suppositions held by unbelievers but I’m not going to. Besides, the responses to all of these unfounded suppositions have all been more than adequately addressed by individuals who are much more qualified to address them (PhDs in most cases), than I am. You can find some of these “responses” on my “Christian Resources” web page.

What I do want you to do is put yourself in the place of “Peter”.  Pretend that you’re “Peter” if you will. Peter, as you may recall, was the fisherman who ended up following Jesus.

And, just so you know, almost all scholars today acknowledge that Jesus Christ is an historical figure, that He actually lived over two thousand years ago. Historically speaking, that question is not really open for debate. There is more than ample historical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ.

SETTING THE STAGE
Now I need to set the stage, so to speak, for you. Peter was Jewish. The Old Testament scriptures that Peter was familiar with spoke of a coming Messiah, a special “Anointed One” from God who they thought, was going to change the status of the Jews who where under the control and dominion of the Roman Empire authorities. The Jews of Peter’s time, where looking for the coming of the Messiah.

Simon Peter, also known as Cephas (John 1:42), was one of the first followers of Jesus Christ. Simon was originally from Bethsaida (John 1:44) and lived in Capernaum (Mark 1:29), both cities on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. He was married (1 Corinthians 9:5), and he and James and John were partners in a profitable fishing business (Luke 5:10). Simon met Jesus through his brother Andrew, who had followed Jesus after hearing John the Baptist proclaim that Jesus was the Lamb of God (John 1:35-36). Andrew immediately went to find his brother to bring him to Jesus. Upon meeting Simon, Jesus gave him a new name: Cephas (Aramaic) or Peter (Greek), which means “rock” (John 1:40-42). Later, Jesus officially called Peter to follow Him, producing a miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-7). Immediately, Peter left everything behind to follow the Lord (verse 11).

WHAT PETER SAW AND EXPERIENCED

  • Peter heard all the teachings and explanations of spiritual truths that Jesus gave.
  • Peter saw the miracles that Jesus performed.
  • Peter saw Jesus walking on the surface of the water and for a short time was able to do the same (Matthew 14:22-36 NIV).
  • Peter saw Jesus transfigured (Mark 9:2-9 NIV)
  • Peter hears God the Father speak from Heaven about His Son Jesus (2 Peter 1:18 NIV)
  • Peter saw Jesus calm the storm at sea (Matthew 8:23-27 NIV)
  • Peter denied knowing Jesus when questioned after Jesus’s arrest.
  • Peter saw Jesus get arrested and knew that Jesus had been crucified (possibly watched from afar) and had died.
  • Peter sees Jesus more than once after He is resurrected from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-7 NIV).
  • Peter becomes the main spokesperson in Jerusalem about Jesus Christ, the Messiah, having been raised from the dead and offering eternal life to all who believe (Acts chapters 2-5 NIV)

SUMMARY
The above are just the highlights, there’s a lot more, but it’s pretty easy to see that the reality of the resurrected Jesus totally changed the Apostles, including Peter. I asked you to put yourself in Peter’s place. How would that affect you? If you heard what Peter heard and saw what Peter saw, and experienced what Peter experienced, do you think that you could go back to life as usual? And it wasn’t just Peter who changed, all of the Apostles radically changed and then of course, there’s the Apostle Paul.

Peter and the rest of the Apostles didn’t go back to life as usual and as believers, neither can we. This is not a fairy tale, this historical testimony of eye witness accounts as recorded in the New Testament actually happened. The message that the Apostles and early disciples of Jesus then gave to the world is part of what was instrumental in the growth of Christianity.

But have you truly ever looked at what Jesus said? Have you honestly ever considered all that Jesus actually did?

Foolishness . . . to the ways of the world that deny God’s existence, that deny who Jesus was and is and what He has done for us, sure…. it’s considered foolishness, but to us who have honestly looked and have come to believe, it is in fact the power of God. Don’t write off or reject who you’ve never really seriously looked at. Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus was and is God’s one and only Son and He came for a purpose, with a message about God’s love. Part of that message that Jesus came to give us is quoted directly below. These are Jesus’s words:

John 3:16-20 NIV  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 comments

  1. Bruce, even though we cannot even pretend to come close to anything on Peter’s resume of experiences, 2000 years later Jesus Christ is still changing lives in such a way we who have experienced his touch, His presence, His unexplainable love joy peace, would make it impossible to go back. Very well presented. I envy Peters life but not his death.

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    • I agree Annie but there are some who say they are not, which has always puzzled me because what are the four Gospels if not personal testimonies in essence and like you said, they were there! Blessings!

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