The Preaching of the Cross
1 Cor. 1:18-24
Paul was sent by Christ not to baptize but to preach the gospel. We have touched the topic about
baptism last week and though we have not covered a lot about it, it’s better to leave it now at the
moment and talk about preaching of the cross. Our verse tells us about preaching of the cross which
divides people. What is preaching of the cross and what does it do? Let’s take a closer look at it.
I. What is preaching of the cross?
A. “The preaching of the cross” is proclaiming the good news of salvation that Jesus
Christ died for our sins and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day.
(1 Cor. 15: 3-4)
B. “The preaching of the cross” is proclaiming the message that Jesus Christ is the only
way to heaven (Jn. 14:6, Acts 4:12, I Cor. 3:11, 1 Tim. 2:5).
C. “The preaching of the cross” is proclaiming the message that salvation is the free gift
of God’s eternal blessing through the atonement of Jesus Christ. It is offered to all
who will believe on Christ (Rom. 1:16-17; 3:22-30; 4:3-8,24, 10:8-13). It is God’s
chosen plan for salvation.
D. “The preaching of the cross” is the declaring of the message that says all have sinned
and are therefore under the condemnation of God. (Rom. 3:23, Rom. 6:23)
E. “The preaching of the cross” is the declaring of the message that says God loves the
world that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish, but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16)
F. “The preaching of the cross” is the declaring of the most wonderful message, the
good news of salvation to us all sinners.
G. The “preaching of the cross” is the power of God in the sense that it can change
lives. It can cause a thief, a murderer, a liar, a swindler, etc., to repent from their sins
and come to Christ for salvation.
Illustration 1: Cross
“Who killed Jesus?” During the Middle Ages, Crusaders sometimes killed Jewish people on their way
to free Jerusalem from the Turks. These Crusaders read Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 and concluded the
Jewish leaders of the first century were responsible for the death of Jesus. A group of people was
wrongly punished for the actions of their ancestors.
According to the account written by the Apostle Matthew, the Romans were responsible for killing
Jesus. The Roman governor, Pilate delivered Jesus to death, even while declaring him an innocent
man. The Roman soldiers led Jesus down the Via Dolorosa and publicly executed him.
Believers in Jesus do not argue about who killed Jesus. Ultimately, each person is responsible for the
death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus willingly surrendered his life, and died to pay the penalty for the
sins of Jews and Romans, Europeans, and Americans. Our self centered and unrighteous actions sent
Jesus to the cross. He took the punishment of death we deserve and offers every man, woman, and
child peace with God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made
the righteousness of God in him. Fresh Illustrations.
Illustration 2: Rembrandt’s Painting
If you were to look at Rembrandt’s painting of The Three Crosses, your attention would be drawn
first to the center cross on which Jesus died. Then as you would look at the crowd gathered around
the foot of that cross, you’d be impressed by the various facial expressions and actions of the people
involved in the awful crime of crucifying the Son of God. Finally, your eyes would drift to the edge of
the painting and catch sight of another figure, almost hidden in the shadows. Art critics say this is a
representation of Rembrandt himself, for he recognized that by his sins he helped nail Jesus to the
II. What it does
A. The cross divides man into 2 distinct classifications:
1. Those that are saved, because they believed
2. Those that are lost, because they did not believe and thought it was foolishness.
3. No neutral ground here. Your response to the preaching of the cross will
determine your eternal destiny whether it is in heaven or in hell.
B. The cross destroys human wisdom (1 Cor. 1:19a).
1. Prophesied in Isa. 29:14, it tells us that man’s wisdom will be destroyed by God.
2. Mankind’s wisdom falls short or will never be enough to save himself.
3. Paul mentions:
a. “where is the wise?” ( 1 Cor. 1:20) the man that boasts of his superior
wisdom and knowledge in the things of nature, whether among the Jews or
b. “where is the Scribe?” the letter learned man, who takes upon him to give
the literal sense of the law.
c. “where is the disputer of this world”? the Jewish world, who pretends to the
knowledge of the more abstruse and secret senses of Scripture; where are
d. God didn’t use them in proclaiming the gospel. Their wisdom is futile,
foolish, and useless in the business of salvation. It just proves that man
cannot come to know God by human wisdom.
C. It brings to nothing the understanding of the prudent 1 Cor. 1:19b)
1. By choosing the foolishness of preaching to present the message of salvation,
the understanding of the prudent (wise, intelligent) was brought to nothing.
2. God chose to save man through faith in a message that seems foolish. The
content of the gospel is foolishness to the fallen mind. How can someone die for
you? Or how can God die for you? How can the creator of the world be crucified
by His creation? How can God suffer?
3. “To save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). The preaching of the cross, which is
foolishness, is made the means of saving man, because it sets forth God’s only
plan of mercy, and states the way in which lost sinners may become reconciled
4. It is God’s will that those who believe the gospel will be saved. This is His plan
and program, and it is contrary to the teaching of Calvinism, which teaches that
only the elect will believe.
D. It blinds men of their own misconceptions (1 Cor. 1:22)
1. The Jews requires a sign. In the past God has manifested Himself to them by
many miracles. When Christ was here the Jews always ask Him for a sign (Mt.
12:38; 16:1; Mk. 8:11; Lk. 11:16; 12:54-56) to prove His Messiahship.
2. The Greeks seeks after wisdom. It was the standard of Philosophers, debaters,
orators, thinkers, poets, etc.
3. To the Jews, the preaching of the cross becomes a stumbling block (1 Cor. 1:23).
They stumble at the fact that it tells them they are condemned sinners and that
their righteousness is not acceptable before God and that only through the
blood of Christ can they be saved. Also, they anticipated that the Messiah would
be a conquering prince who would exalt their nation. To present Him as a
crucified malefactor was a big insult. That’s why to them he was a
“stumblingstone and rock of offence (Rom. 9:33)
4. To the Greeks the preaching of the cross is foolishness. it sounds ridiculous to
them that God would send His Son to die for their sins. “How can the blood on
the cross wash away sin, and secure salvation?
5. To both Jews and the Greeks, Jesus and the cross is sufficient enough to satisfy
their want for sign and wisdom.
6. Paul then writes “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ
the power of God, and the wisdom of God”. (1 Cor. 1:24).
a. Who is called? All are called through the gospel (Jn. 6:40; 1 Cor. 1:21; 2 Th.
2:14). This is why the gospel is to be preached to all men (Mk. 16:15).
b. “Christ the power of god and the wisdom of God” The first expression may
relate to the resurrection of Christ because of the use of “power of God” in
Rom. 1:4 or as we have mentioned earlier, He can change peoples lives.
c. The second expression uniquely relates to the problem of the Corinthian
church’s emphasis on knowledge. However, it may surely be a reference to
Prov. 8:22-31 (the personified wisdom of creation, 8:6; Col. 1:15-17; Heb.
III. Our duty to the cross
A. Take up your cross (Mat. 16:24). The cross here is not a literal cross but something
that is hard, painful, humiliating, etc., which we have to bear in following Christ.
1. We must endure whatever is burdensome, or trying, or considered as
disgraceful, in following Christ.
2. It may be the giving up our comfort zone, valuable time, pleasures, material
3. The endurance of reproach or poverty.
4. The suffering of losses and persecutions for Christ’s sake.
5. The consecrating all to Jesus.
6. Surrendering to God our will, affections, body, and soul.
7. Let us not seek his own happiness as the supreme object, but be willing to
renounce all, and lay down our life also, if required.
Illustration 3: Cross of Refuge
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, of Sherlock Holmes fame, in his history of the Boer War, tells us how on one
occasion a comparatively small detachment of the British army was surprised by a force of the
enemy twice its own strength. The British were driven back upon their camp, and the Boers occupied
a commanding position from which they were enabled to pour volley after volley into the English
lines. The British wounded in the earlier part of the action found themselves in a terrible position,
laid out in the open under a withering fire. One of this number, a corporal in the Ceylon Mounted
Infantry, tells the story himself: “We must get up a red flag or we shall be blown from the face of the
earth.” He says, “We had a pillow but no red paint. Then we saw what to do instead. So they made
an upright with my blood and the horizontal with Paul’s.” This grim flag, the blood red cross upon
the white background, was respected by the Boers. Those lying beneath it were safe. Even so—
beneath the blood stained Cross of Christ we find our sure refuge.
Heart-warming Bible Illustrations.
What does Preaching of the cross mean to you? Is the cross just a religious symbol or
the instrument in which our Saviour died to redeem our souls from the eternal
punishment in the place called hell? Would you believe the message that Jesus Christ
came and died for you so that your sins will be forgiven? Will you repent from your sins
now and receive Him as your personal Saviour?