Reports just in from the Celebrity pages of ‘Jerusalem Post’ indicate that disgraced former Pharisee Paul continues his successful – if controversial – tour around the Mediterranean.
In every city he visits, he seems to stir up trouble. His message causes riots in some cities, and stirs up violence against himself in many.
And still he continues his tour, determined to share a message that discerning hearers have labelled bizarre and grossly unappealing. Others call it blasphemous in the extreme. Hence the riots and the attacks.
And yet, it seems to be captivating many who hear him. Reports are that the educated and religious are discerning enough to ignore or reject his message.
Initially it seems to be the poor, the working class, slaves, and the disenfranchised who welcome his message, and embrace the man himself. That should tell the discerning reader something.
Strangely though, many amongst the middle-class – and even some wealthy business owners seem to be won over by his message. Rumour has it that there are some within Caesar’s own household who have accepted Paul’s teaching.
Paul apparently has the same things to say in every town and every city; his message never seems to change. One might imagine that, to be successful, you’d need to have a few different stories to tell from time to time.
But not Paul. He seems to delight in telling the same story over and over again. He is quoted as saying that this is because “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”
And he also says that he refuses to change his message because “this gospel is of first importance.”
“What on earth could be so important that you never change your message, Paul?” Well might you ask.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures… [1Cor 15:1-4]
That is the simple – and yet controversial – message that Paul preached, everywhere he went. He never changed his message; he never felt the need to. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, He was raised again to life.”
Such an uncomplicated message. And yet, Paul was not ashamed to repeat this message everywhere he went, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” [Rom 1:16].
It’s the same message that Jesus told Nicodemus, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” [John 3:14-17].
So simple that even a child, or a slave, or a pauper, could hear it, understand it, and believe for eternal life. Sadly, it is too simple for some, who imagine that they are above such “foolishness.”
And not spectacular enough – or interesting enough – for others. “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” [1Cor 21-25].
Friends, you need no other message. You need no other power. The gospel is enough to save the weakest, the most foolish. And it is enough to save the strongest and the wisest.
All it takes to receive eternal life is that you believe: Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised to life on the third day.