“And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Paul planted this church in the city of Corinth. He just got the ball rolling and left to start new churches in other cities. He is here writing to the church to remind them of his original simple message.
He came to them showing no knowledge of anything else at all except
“Jesus Christ and him crucified.”2:2
Paul did know a whole lot more, though–he wrote more than half the books in the New Testament! So why did he not bother teaching them anything else?
Reason 1: No message is greater than that of Christ and him crucified, and
Reason 2: any other message begins with and ends at Christ and him crucified.
The entirety of the Old Testament pointed toward the event of Christ on the cross. The Jewish ceremonies, festivals, and the sanctuary service all pointed to this event. The prophets spoke about this moment thousands of years prior. Adam and Eve were promised it. Abraham demonstrated it when asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Moses pointed toward this event when told to strike (kill) the rock (Jesus) in the wilderness to bring forth water (life) for the Israelites to drink, but marred the message when he struck the rock the second time (Christ died once for all) rather than speaking to it. The Israelites witnessed a metaphor for it when looking to the serpent on the cross (Christ became our sin when on the cross) when in the wilderness. There is no greater treasure than the event of Christ on the cross, and no greater message than this ultimate sacrifice!
The message of Jesus,
“who knew no sin to be sin for us,”2 Corinthians 5:21
“[suffer] for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,”1 Peter 3:18
is the beginning, middle, and end of any message Paul could possibly deliver. It is the only theological topic to discuss because all other topics start with Christ on the cross, involve Christ on the cross, and culminate with Christ on the cross.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”John 14:6
Jesus is the pathway to the Father, he is the true revelator of the character and eternal law of the Father, and he is the only reason you and I have life and can continue to
“have it abundantly.”John 10:10
Later in the same letter, Paul tells the people of Corinth that
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”1 Corinthians 13:2
The apostle John, the guy who was shown a massive, mind-blowing vision about the second-coming of Christ as recorded in the book of Revelation, exhorts us to love one another because
“love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.1 John 4:7-8
Here John says God is love; in John 1:1 he says that Jesus is God; and Paul in his letter to the Corinthians says that if he does anything without love (can we now, therefore, assume “without Jesus”?) he is nothing. Without love–without the message of Christ and him crucified–our message is nothing.
Put simply: Christ must be the source, the direction, and the final destination of our message because he is the
“author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:2
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”John 12:32
When Christ is lifted up in our conversations, our discussions, our debates, our sermons, and in our actions, he will draw people to him.
Preach Christ and him crucified. There is nothing else.