For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 (KJV)
The world likes symbols. Symbols say and sum up so much.
In World War II, Winston Churchill was a symbol. His bulldog face, smoldering cigar and two fingers flashing a "V" for victory became a source of inspiration for many who saw him.
Today, there is a new symbol. The Chinese government, in spite of bad weather, prolonged waiting, and global protests concerning their domination of Tibet, has managed to get a team of climbers to the top of Mount Everest.
Now they are trying to make the climb into a symbol.
What symbol? Look at the photographs of the event. See the climbers holding the Chinese flag next to two flags bearing the Olympic rings. The Chinese government hoped everyone would immediately understand: China and the Olympics have made it to the top of the world.
So far, the reviews to what China is trying to do have been mixed. Some think it is hypocritical; others are accepting the symbol as the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Writing to the church in Corinth, Paul noted how the reaction to the Lord's symbol of salvation, the Savior's cross, had also been "mixed." Those who thought they didn't need or want God or who thought they could get to heaven on their own power, found the cross and its preaching to be foolish.
These people were amused at the idea of God's Son dying on a cross so a sinful world might be redeemed and believers might be given life. Laughing at God's love, these doubters had tried to ignore the cross, stop its preaching, and shove the Savior back into His grave.
It should be readily apparent the descendants of those who denounced God's work of salvation are alive and well today. Twenty centuries after Paul wrote, there are many millions who think God's plan of salvation is foolishness.
On the other hand, there are those people who have been confronted by their sinful condition and who acknowledge their helplessness to save themselves. These people see the cross in a different way.
To them, Jesus' empty cross and tomb are the symbols of their redemption. At the cross, before the Lord's empty tomb, they become recipients of forgiveness and salvation, which the Savior has won at great cost.
To them the empty cross is the eternal symbol - - the purest symbol of God's love, His grace, and His promises that have been fulfilled. Little wonder Christ's cross remains as the most powerful symbol this world has ever seen. And that, my friends is not foolishness.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for the empty cross, Your nail-pierced hands, the open tomb, I give thanks. The world may laugh, but I will give thanks for Your successful sacrifice. In Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries