The crux (pun intended) of the Christian message is the Crucified Christ.
Crucifixion was an ancient form of execution wherein the victim was nailed to a cross and left to die. It was used to deter its witnesses from committing similar crimes. It was a horrific and humiliating way to die – naked and ashamed. The term excruciating literally means out “out of crucifying” and is an indication of the pain experienced.
Christ is a Greek word that means “the anointed one”. That is to say, Christ is a title and not a name. It is not Jesus surname. Jesus is the chosen one, the saviour, the redeemer, the messiah, the anointed one.
So one can appreciate why saying that at the heart of the Christian message is the “Crucified Christ” – people would be triggered and stirred up. And for 2000 years since the first ‘Easter’ when the Christ was crucified, nothing has changed.
In 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 the Apostle Paul details the responses that people have to the cross.
- Repulsed by the idea of the Christ being crucified
- Dismissive of the idea of the Christ being crucified
- Captivated by the idea of the Christ being crucified
Some are repulsed because they expected conquest from the Christ and not crucifixion i.e he would be a victor and not the victim. Some are dismissive because they do not accept that there is a Christ much less any significance in a crucifixion apart from humiliation. And lastly, some are captivated because they see that the crucifixion of the Christ was the counter-intuitive demonstration of the power and wisdom of God.
This is similar to the trilemma popularised by C.S Lewis asking is Christ Jesus;
If he is a liar then we should be repulsed by him as someone who has intentionally mislead countless people. If he is a lunatic then we should dismiss his claims but need not condemn him. But if Christ Jesus is the Lord, then we can and we ought to believe what he says and following on from the Apostle Paul, we should also boast in the Lord.
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
God can save you because Jesus died for you.
Boon Guo Quah