In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let’s be honest. According to our world God is dumb. This attitude takes various forms from the extreme atheism that has become so common that hates all religion and ridicules it as nothing but faerie tales and lies, to the spirituality that thinks there is some kind of greater power out there but we each get to define what that power is like. And guess what, when you listen to such spiritual people strangely their “deity” looks a lot like themselves. And it all comes back to this: the world says God is dumb. But let’s be clear by what I mean: the world thinks the God of the Bible, the God of the cross is moronic.
For only the God of the Bible hides Himself behind a sign-post on which is hung that which is killing you (Numbers 21:9). Like Moses in the wilderness standing up on a pole a fiery bronze snake, the very thing killing them, so our God has us look to a cross on which is hung our sin. The Israelites looked at the snake with faith in God’s promise that He would save them by this (Numbers 21:8). So we foolish Christians cling to God’s promise that when we look in faith on the cross of Christ, on which is hung all our sin in His flesh, it is the sign, the power, the wisdom of God for our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:22-25). God hides Himself behind this cross. He buries Himself in this promise (1 Corinthians 1:18). To be found only by those who will look where He has hidden Himself in order that there and only there He may be found (Isaiah 55:6-11; Romans 8:20-21).
In the New Testament the word “sign” is often accompanied by “wonders” leading us to this notion that the signs which accompany the preaching of Christ crucified are miraculous wonders. And indeed there have often been miraculous wonders that accompany the sign of the preaching of Christ crucified (Acts 2:22, 43; 4:29-31; 5:11-13; 6:7-10; 14:2, etc.) Yet, the preaching of Christ crucified is a sign in and of itself (1 Corinthians 1:22-24, especially in the Greek). And the greatest wonder that accompanies it is the wonder of people actually believing that which is powerless to sign-seekers and foolishness to wisdom-lovers.
Since death comes through lies God has defeated death by holding it up for you to see in Christ who is the truth (John 14:6; 17:17; 1:14). He has lifted up His Son on which He placed all sin, all death, all lies which rob you of life (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:3; 4:25; Galatians 3:13) so that all the world can see this death which cast out Satan, broke his power, freed the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve from the power of sin over them. All humanity can now be free. All of us can have life to the full. Life in Him. But only in Him. Not apart from Him. For He is life (John 14:6). He has cast out death. Where He is death departs. Life is. So seek Him where He is found (Isaiah 55:6-11).
And He is found in the word of His cross (1 Corinthians 1:18), in the proclamation of Christ crucified for you, for your life, for your victory. Look to Him and His cross. Trust in it. For His cross draws you near to Him (John 12:32-33). To His Father (John 6:44). And that’s where there is life (John 3:16; 20:30-31).
Life is not found in the wisdom of this world. Good advice can free you from bad habits and help you live out your love for others. But as good a person as you may be, in terms of your outward actions, as well as you live your life, there is no life in you apart from Jesus. For we are born spiritually dead to God in sin (Genesis 2:15-17; Romans 8:10; Ephesians 2:1; 4:18). For He on His cross, His blood soaking into it, turns that dead tree into the tree of life from which you must eat in faith and into which you must be grafted so that His life can flow in you. And wonder of wonders, you have been grafted into Him when you were baptized (Romans 11:17, 23-24; 6:3-11). You have eaten of Him from this altar. You have heard of Him and His Spirit flows in you through His Word proclaimed in your hearing.
And so He having “died” and been buried, like a seed (John 12:24), He now springs up as tree of life for all mankind. From which we must eat and by which we are freed, losing ourselves and becoming His people who tend His garden on earth so that others can be welcomed into the shade and rest and refreshment of this tree (Revelation 22:2, 14) of life who is Christ our Lord (John 15:5).
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON