Last night, Pastor Dave Dayhoff preached a wonderful message on I Corinthians 1:18-25. One of the main themes of the message was the foolishness of God. Quite honestly, we don't often talk about the foolishness of God very much. Pastor Dayhoff explained how the cross was foolishness.
Did you know that in addition to the excruciating pain associated with crucifixion, was horrible shame? It's true. Crucifixion was so shameful that it was a punishment made restricted to only slaves and insurrectionists? A Roman Citizen never would have been given the sentence of crucifixion, regardless of how horrible a crime he or she committed. Death by cross was such a horrible thing that it was taboo for people to even talk about it.
For the Jews, anyone who was hung on a tree was cursed. Crucifixion was so horrible, that the only way a person would be killed in that way was if God had cursed them and intetionally put them there. It was impossible for the messiah to be crucified, for the messiah could not be cursed.
The death of Jesus of Nazareth is foolishness, for how could the messiah be hung on a tree? Of course, today we know that his resurrection is even more foolish. And it is because of this foolishness that we know that Jesus of Nazarene was also God the Son -- the Word made Flesh who died as a ransom for many.
This sermon really got me thinking about the cross. If the cross is shameful, what does it mean for us when Jesus said "if anyone should come after me, he should take up his cross daily and follow me." (Matthew 16; Mark 8; Luke 9). I've heard people interpret these verses as each person should take up a ministry, or take up the sins of the their past and move forward. However, I'm not quite sure if these are the best understandings of these verses. I've also heard our crosses explained as persecution, which might be a bit closer to correct.
What do you think? How should following Christ connect to carrying the shame of the cross? Does this influence how we perceive work, money, success? Should it influence our self-image, our pride? What does it mean?