The Gospel is still a stumbling block and foolishness

Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

So I’ve been thinking about Peter and Paul’s take on the Gospel in Acts chapter 2, 3, 5, 10, 13 and 26 (wanna read the full post? Click here). Again and again, like stuck records, they sing the same tune, “Jesus died, Jesus rose, repent for the forgiveness of sins.”

Well you know the story, it spread like wildfire didn’t it? But saying that, do you have any idea how hard it must have been to present that Gospel message to those people of their day? Pretty near impossible! It was as “seeker” insensitive as God could have made it. Listen why:

The Roman Empire stood on the shoulders of the civilizations which had fallen before it. It was from the Carthaginians that they inherited crucifixion but it was Roman efficiency and ingenuity which had perfected the grim practice of protracted death and torture. It was a dreadful way to die, so dreadful in fact that as a rule Roman citizens where spared this fate. Crucifixion was reserved for the lowest of the low, the bottom dwellers of society. The crucified were considered to have no honor, no value and be of no worth to society.

The Jewish mind was even more hostile to the notion of crucifixion. Firstly it was a sign of the Roman oppression that they were subjected to, a reminder if you will that they didn’t control themselves but rather Rome lorded over them. Over and above that they believed it was a curse. Deuteronomy 21:22 – 23 reads:

22 “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.

On this one thing Romans and Jews agreed, crusification was something to be detested, a no no, a swear word, a curse.

So in come Peter and Paul with the Gospel, “Jesus died, Jesus rose, repent for the forgiveness of sins.”

“Wow, that’s interesting Peter and Paul, how did this Jesus of your’s die?”

Peter gets excited thinking that at last someone is listening and he replies, “Well, Jesus, God incarnate, was whipped and beaten, carried His own cross, was nailed to it with a crown of thorns mockingly press down upon His head. He hung on that cross between two thieves and then died. A Roman soldier wanted to make sure so he stabbed Him with a spear. He was dead. Stone dead. Crucified.”

Stunned silence.

Well needless to say it was a tough sell. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 1:23 echo through time:

23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,

And yet despite the difficulties neither Peter nor Paul deviated from the message. How about you? There’s still pressure on the Gospel message isn’t there? Sure nowadays people aren’t offended by the cross, we wear it on our necks, it’s symbolic, someone says, “Jesus died” and most people say, “So what?” But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still an eyesore. Maybe it’s that He died in the place of sinners as a substitute? Maybe it’s that if you want to receive Him you need to confess your sins and acknowledge Him as Lord? Maybe you’re ashamed of the Gospel, not understanding it for yourself and so are scared to present it because of what people might think of you?

Thing is the world needs Peters and Paulines. The world needs Christians who know what they believe and are able to profess it accurately to a world which is devastated by sin.Romans 1:16 says:

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Do you know the Gospel? Do you share it? What are the stumbling blocks for you?


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