Salvation by the cross was of all doctrines the most offensive, and the most unintelligible. That the promised Messiah would be crucified, was unto the Jew, who anticipated a triumphant king, a stumbling block; that a crucified man was the Son of God was to the Greek foolishness, for it contradicted sense and reason. Thus the preaching of the cross was to those who perish foolishness. But there were those whose eyes were divinely enlightened to see, and their hearts opened to believe and receive it. He therefore adds, “But unto us who are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18.)
Though foolishness to the learned Greek, there were those who saw in the cross a wisdom as much surpassing all other as the midday sun surpasses the faintest star; which made the apostle say, “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Cor. 2:6-8.)
This, then, is the mystery of the cross; this is the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory, that the Son of God, who as God the Son, is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, should take our nature into union with his own divine Person, and in that nature should suffer, agonize, bleed, and die; that by his sufferings, blood-shedding, and death an innumerable multitude of sinners should be redeemed from the curse of the law and the damnation of hell, and be saved in himself with an everlasting salvation.
It is not my present object to enter further into the depth of this mystery as a display of the infinite wisdom, love, and grace of God; but I may briefly say that by the cross of our suffering, dying Lord, justice and mercy were thoroughly harmonized; every attribute of God blessedly glorified; the Son of his love supremely exalted; redemption’s work fully accomplished; the church everlastingly saved; the adversary entirely baffled and defeated; and an eternal revenue of praise laid up to redound to the glory of a triune Jehovah. Well then may we say, “Great is the mystery of godliness– God manifest in the flesh.” (1 Tim. 3:16.)
By J. C. Philpot
Preached at the North Street Chapel, Stamford, on August 19, 1860