Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Foolishness of the Gospel and the "Insanity" of Jesus

* A devotional I penned for our church bulletin.

A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words.  Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is insane.  Why do you listen to him?”  Others were saying, “These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed.  A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?”
John 10.19-21

Jesus’ words and actions caused divisions among his contemporaries (John 7.43; 9.16).  Think of this—the greatest man to ever live, with the greatest teaching to ever grace the ears of mankind—he caused division.  What I find most amazing is that the greatest teacher communicating pure truth is accused of being “insane!”  The One from God is thought to be demon-possessed.  Talk about a complete misunderstanding of Jesus!

We should take comfort from this passage.  Sometimes we can feel like we don’t know enough to share the gospel with others.  We worry and wonder, “What if I say something wrong or I can’t answer all their questions?”  We need to remember that there is no “perfect” gospel encounter.  Not even Jesus’ teaching met with total acceptance.  The measure of our success in sharing the gospel is not whether everyone agrees or accepts it.  The measure of success has to be on whether we faithfully represent the message of Jesus Christ.  Our goal should be to please Him.  This was Jesus’ goal—he wanted to please the Father and speak only what the Father told him (John 5.19; 14.9-11, 24).  Jesus didn’t seek the favor of men but the glory of God (John 5.44).  This meant that not everyone accepted the teaching from Jesus.  He caused divisions because he was faithful to the Father. 

He was also willing to be seen as “insane” for the sake of the gospel.  Too often I find in myself a kind of pride that doesn’t want to face rejection.  I want to be accepted and seen as someone who is rational.  Who wants to be dismissed as foolish or naïve?  We need to be reminded that the gospel message is foolishness to those who do not believe.  The message of the cross of Jesus is seen as weak and ineffectual by the world.  As the apostle Paul puts it—“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…” (1 Corinthians 1.18).  But it is precisely this message of the cross in all its “foolishness” that God loves to use to save people and bring them to himself.  Here is how Paul states the matter:

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.  –1 Corinthians 1.21

This “foolish” message is the power of God for salvation for those who believe and God is “well-pleased” to use this preached message to save people.  So let us not be ashamed of this message.  Let us boldly follow Jesus’ example of being willing to be seen as foolish for the sake of the gospel message.  Let us faithfully open our mouths for the sake of Jesus so that others may come to know him.