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The Word of the Cross is…to us Who are being Saved…the Power of God

4 April • Tuesday of Holy Week

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

18 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. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”



It is not easy for anyone, especially Singaporeans, who have been brought up and influenced by what is broadly described as meritocracy. In a meritocratic society, we place high premium and offer rich rewards to those who are considered the best educated and most competent. We look up to people who are smart and successful. We assume that the one who has done well academically, and who exhibits intelligence is the one who is wise and should be admired.

But that is not the first criteria we look for in our faith community. When we look at the Christian faith and how this faith has impacted our relationship with God, apart from introducing us to a deeper understanding of the salvific plan of God, it is clear that one does not have to be an intellectually brilliant or worldly wise to appreciate the gospel of Jesus Christ. One does not have to depend on nor does one have to demand signs and wonders to know God. Those who are worldly wise and have the best qualifications in the world may not be the ones who really know God or understand the ways of God.

Pointing to the Christian population in Corinth, Paul reminded the Christians in that city that not many of them became Christians because they were wise, powerful or from a noble family. They were mainly ordinary people who heard the gospel, repented of their sins and responded to the Good News of Christ crucified. If they were to follow worldly standards of wisdom and power, they might have rejected the story of the cross, which some have seen as a stumbling block and a folly. By worldly standard, the death of someone on the cross is scandalous! Crucifixion is nothing glamorous. It had been associated with folly and failure!

Under ordinary circumstances, it would be foolish for anyone to follow those who preach the message of Jesus who was crucified.

Yet there were people who accepted the message of Christ crucified. It was those people who went against worldly wisdom to turn to God who made fools of those considered by the world to be wise. From the perspective of scriptural teaching, those who accepted the gospel of Christ crucified, were the ones who were truly wise.

May we not misunderstand, the message of Paul is not an anti-intellectual edict. Paul is not dismissing the place of the worldly wise and their contribution to the spiritual well-being of the faith community. Paul was not underplaying the need for the church to have such wise persons engaged in providing pastoral leadership and defending the Christian faith. Look at Paul himself. He was a very well-educated person with a formidable mind. From the letters he wrote to various groups of Christians, it is clear that he was an extremely wise man.

What Paul was targeting are those who might have thought too highly of themselves and who might have assumed that they were smarter or more powerful than God.

If anyone wants to be wise, do not depend exclusively on the worldly measurement of wisdom. Focus primarily on the teaching of Christ who died on the cross to reveal the depth of God’s salvation message for those who would hear and believe. Thankfully, we do not have to be the smartest and the most brilliant to recognise Christ’s work of salvation and accept the gospel.



Most holy and wise God, thank You for Your gift of salvation made possible by the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. Help us not to forget the agony and taunting that our Lord had to endure as He offered Himself as the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. Forgive us if we have failed to contemplate on Your great love for us. Forgive us if we have tried to avoid the message of the cross. Instead of shying away from the pain of the cross, help us to rededicate ourselves to preach Jesus Christ who is our crucified and resurrected Lord and Saviour, amen.



Borrow or buy a copy of John Stott’s book, The Cross of Christ. Read it for personal benefit and if you belong to a small group, use it as a text for group study.

Rev Dr Daniel Koh Kah Soon

Pastor, Barker Road Methodist Church

overseeing the works of Outreach and Social Concerns,

and the Oasis BRMC Mission @ Bukit Batok.

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