Key Passage – Galatians 5:1-15
Key Text – Galatians 5:11 – But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.
It is true that we often reject what we can’t understand. We simply put into a classification in our minds and dismiss it. The challenge with the message of grace is that it is completely against human nature and pride, that we just simply reject it. But let me state right upfront that you reject the message of grace at your own peril. Ignorance is no excuse to reject it. We must just acquiesce and progress.
The message of grace is inextricably linked to the full provisions of the cross of Christ. So it has both the capacity to offend and cause people to stumble. People are offended on many fronts. They are offended that the cross is not at all in keeping with human wisdom. How can eternal salvation come from a man with badly lacerated body, stripped of all human dignity, nailed to a cross and executed as a common criminal? Surely the savour of mankind will come with heavenly chariots and incredible army and obliterate all enemies of God in one second. Jesus on the cross does not fit the human idea of a hero.
The cross is offensive also, because, it totally removes any responsibility from man for saving himself. Man has no role in salvation. We are simply to receive the accomplished work. Human beings want to do something to earn something. It is just in our nature somehow. But the cross offends, as it is the work of God from start to finish. We have no role to play in it.
The cross is offensive because it is not a good sight and it is utterly ghastly from human perspective. It is bloody and brutal. It is not appealing at all, so it tends to turn people off. There is an old testament story in the books of 2Kings 5, that illustrates the offense of the cross vividly. A Syrian General was plagued with leprosy. There was no earthly cure known for his condition, but a young Jewish girl told him that there was a prophet in the land of Israel who could cure the general of his malady. So he went to see the prophet Elisha. But on getting to Elisha, the prophet refused to see him, just sent him to the Jordan to dip himself seven times in the Jordan and he would be healed. The general was so offended at this suggestion that he was going to go back to Syria. He despised the waters of the Jordan, he rejected the method and could not see any form of power display in this prescription. It sounded completely absurd and simplistic to him. But thank God he had some wise Lieutenants, who prevailed on him to obey the Prophet. So when he dipped seven times in the Jordan, his skin was restored like that of a newborn baby!
This is the offence of the cross and the message of grace linked up in one. God’s perfect provision to remove the incurable condition of man, our sinfulness, is in a very unlikely package called the cross of Jesus Christ. And we are not called to do anything but just believe and we are saved. Only believe.
So in connecting with the grace of God, we have to overcome the offense of our self-righteousness and our so-called ability to help our selves out of our predicament. You simply surrender and receive God’s provision. Period.
Let us Pray: Heavenly Father, please help me to deal with my offence of the cross. Help me to accept your grace and not feel that I have to earn it somehow. I simply want you to help me to surrender completely and enjoy the freedom and fullness of your grace in my life. In Jesus name. Amen.