“The offense of the cross” (Gal. 5:11).
(Offense is skandalon in the original Greek, from which our English word scandal comes.)
What is beautiful is beautiful in the eyes of the beholder, has been said many times in many ways over the years. Conversely, what is offensive and foolish is offensive and foolish in the heart and mind of the individual.
An example of repulsion is found in the topic of cloth diapers. Before there were disposable diapers, mothers (a father normally wouldn’t come within two yards of a messy diaper back in the day) used cloth diapers. Of course, the cloth diaper meant the mother had to wash the mess out of the diaper by hand so it could be cleaned later in her washing machine. A mother’s love made this service possible. What would have been overwhelming repulsion became possible by the power of a mother’s love.
When I think of my mother, I sometimes think of her loving me enough to cleanse me. Love gave her strength to deal with what was offensive: me. When I think of my heavenly Father’s love, I often think about the daily cleansing He freely gives. To use the well-known words of inspiration found in 1 John 1:9, we will be forgiven and cleansed if we confess our sins.
Having been cleansed in the Holy Spirits’ waters of salvation, which gave me new life at the time of my new birth, I am now cleansed daily by the power of confession that frees God’s hands to wash me. My mother’s hands and my Father’s hands found the ability to wash me because of their love.
When I think about the cross, I realize the cross is foolish and offensive only to those who have not experienced the Father’s love in a personal way.
Take a shower in your Father’s forgiveness and love today. Without a daily cleansing, we will radiate unpleasant earthly aromas, which will be noticed by those we are trying to help.
Father, help us to be proud of You and what You have done. What this world finds offensive about the cross, we find to be the answer to our sins. All we need is Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life. In His name, Amen.
For Further Study:
The Bible Itself Calls the Cross A Scandal: Three times the cross is said to be a scandal (Rom. 9:33; Gal. 5:11; 1 Pet. 2:8) as the original Greek word skandalon, from which our English word scandal comes from, is stressed. The cross is a scandal or is foolishness to those who are lost in the suffocating fog of this world:
“The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved; it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).
(For those who are of a scholastic nature, scandal is found in the Darby translation, the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible, and the SBL Greek New Testament for Galatians 5:11. However, most standard translations use offense or in some cases, stumbling block.)
Why the cross is so offensive and foolish needs an answer: The cross is offensive in the sense that it reminds us of our sins and our inability to be saved by good deeds or spiritual attitudes. (The first 10 verses of Ephesians 2 make this point very clear.) Also, the shocking reality of the cross cuts through a person’s pride, intellect and station. Finally, the cross makes clear that the vertical, our individual comparison with God’s holiness, makes a divine remedy necessary. The cross points out that the horizontal, our comparison to other people, means nothing in regard to the salvation of our soul.
Of course, a person who is trusting in him or herself and personal goodness to tip the scale that decides whether they please God or not thinks that to believe that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus and what He accomplished completely on the cross is utter foolishness. Those who believe in their good works being some part of their salvation are blind, confidently walking hand-in-hand toward a great chasm. Unfortunately, they are like lemmings, following each other in multitude over cliffs on a regular schedule as their eyes are blind to the danger. Conformity is a dangerous path to follow, but God’s children have that tendency as is illustrated by their being referred to as sheep needing a shepherd to guide and protect them.
What the cross accomplishes also needs to be summarized: Christ’s blood sets us free. “Who loved us and loosed us from our sins by His blood” (Rev. 1:5). Christ’s blood is sanctifying. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). Christ’s clood is satisfying. “Justified by His blood” (Rom. 5:9).
Almighty God’s answer to the problem of sin was to give His Son’s life as a gift that would break the barrier that mankind’s nature and sins had placed between God’s holiness and mankind. We no longer automatically could walk in fellowship with Him after Adam and Eve’s fall in the garden, thereby passing on their sinful nature to each of their children.
His solution to humanity’s sin problem can be shared any time and any day via John 3:16. After making sure we personally have accepted the Father’s answer, we have the responsibility to say this truth every day in some way.