When we think of great people in the Bible, we are all going to have our favorites. Characters that appeal to us, that speak to us, that mean something to us. Moses, Noah, David, Ruth, Ester, Mary, so many names of people that may speak to us.
But one of the names that is one many of our lists is Paul. Paul has a dramatic conversion story, travels the world preaching, and wrote many books that make up the New Testament.
Paul is one of the most important figures in the Bible and in world history. He was the first to take the Gospel into Europe. He started churches across the world. He brought the Good News to Gentiles. Through His love of devotion to Jesus, he literally changed the world. Look at what he says, though, in 1 Corinthians 2: 1-5, is important to him:
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
Yesterday Erin Hicks, our Associate Pastor here at St. Matthew’s shared a quote from John Wesley that this passage reminded me of. Wesley said this -. “If we could once bring all our preachers, itinerant and local, uniformly to and steadily to insist on those two points, ‘Christ dying for us’ and ‘Christ reigning in us,’ we should shake the trembling gates of hell.” That is the truth of the Gospel. Jesus dying for us (and being raised for us) and reigning in us every day, through the power of the Holy Spirit. That is what truly counts, that is what is all about.
And that is what Paul preached over and over again. As he says in this text – I decided to know (or preach) nothing Jesus crucified.
Paul says, I didn’t worry about the mysteries or these lofty words. Jesus. Crucified. Resurrected. Returning. As we as part of our communion liturgy -as we proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
And this mystery, it is a knowable mystery. We don’t “understand” it, who can really understand the power of resurrection and the cross. But we can know it. Because it is true. And this truth sets us free.
In other words, all of this is to say what matters most. Not mysteries that none but God truly know. Not opinions, no matter how well thought out. Not preferences or likes or dislikes. Not the worry and fears of this world. Paul didn’t focus on any this.
He focused on Jesus. He loves us. He died for us. He will return for us. That’s the truth of the Gospel.
The folks all around us, their need is not really the answers to all the mysteries of the world. Their need is Jesus. Christ, and Christ alone. That’s our hope, and the hope for the world.
Today, may we know Jesus, and Him crucified. And may we know that nothing compares to that.
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