Preached at Minster Abbey
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, One God. Amen.
“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
- 1 Corinthians I: 23-24
Such were the responses to the gospel when the Apostle Saint Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth and, in spite of two thousand years having intervened, the reaction is still very much the same today. The Gospel of Christ is the power and the wisdom of God to those who accept it, but it is dismissed as foolishness by the worldly and a stumbling block to the religious.
The Greek word translated as “stumbling block” in the Authorised Bible is skandalon, from which derives our English word scandal. The Apostle Paul tells us that the Jews seek signs because that is what the prophets gave them, although even then they did not believe. Their expectation of the Messiah was of one who would triumph over Israel’s enemies and establish Jerusalem as the centre of the world. Death by crucifixion was shameful and unthinkable. This was the Roman means of execution for the lowest of criminals. Their Messiah was to be exalted, not humiliated. Today it is one of the reasons for the Jewish rejection of our Lord, whilst Islam, although according him the status of a great prophet, refuses to admit his death on the cross. For Muslims the sovereignty of God would not permit His servant to suffer such an ignominious death, but would deliver him from his enemies.