I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel: Part TwoMonday, October 24, 2005
B. How non-Greeks responded to the gospel.
The Greeks weren’t the only ones who treated the gospel message with such disdain and ill-repute. The Jews were the first, remember. They were the first to persecute Christians, the first to kill one, the first to drive them from their homes.
And their rejection of Christ was based on similar grounds to that of the Greeks. Their expectation of a Messiah was an eternal, shining deity who would descend and destroy the Roman empire, killing all the bad guys, and setting up a kingdom in Jerusalem from where He would rule the earth. So the concept of a weak and suffering Messiah who was numbered among murderers and executed between two thieves on a cross by Roman soldiers was a mockery to them of the meaning of Messiah.
This Man and His message brought Paul so much trouble and suffering wherever he went. This happened to him because the very first place Paul would go to in each town was the synagogue. There he would encounter Jews, who when they heard his message would simply revolt against him and want to kill him, just as they did the prophets in the OT, and Christ, and Stephen, etc.
Their issues was that they hated the fact that Christ was the fulfillment of the Law of Moses. Entrance into the family of God was no longer about circumcision of the Law of Moses, but rather about simple faith and trust in God Himself. This seemed to do away with everything that the Jews held dear to them. So when they heard something like the gospel, they hated the message and the messenger.
In Galatians 5:11, Paul remarks, “But if I brothers still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.” His point here is that if he was in fact preaching the things that the Jews loved so much then he wouldn’t be suffering persecution because there would be no offense to them. But as it stands, they hate him and seek to kill him because they are in fact offended with His version of God.
Paul refers to this sort of response by the Jews in 1 Corinthians 1 where he addressed the Greeks response. In those same verses I cited earlier, Paul writes, “For Jews demand signs…but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to the Jews…” (vv. 22, 23).
As much as the Greeks wanted wisdom, the Jews wanted signs or miraculous displays of heavenly power. But the greatest sign that could ever be performed by any human being, had already been performed – the resurrection from the dead. But the person and death of Christ was a stumbling block to them so that they wouldn’t receive the very sign they were seeking. The man Jesus Christ, and His gospel message was a message that tripped them up. The gospel message made them stumble such that they couldn’t and wouldn’t accept Him.
In the next post, I'll consider Paul's explanation on the rejection of the gospel.