“For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” ( I Corinthians 1:18 – 25)
We have read/heard this passage in the not too distant past. It was the third Sunday of Lent. And we read/heard it up to verse 25. So let us look to see what else Paul said in this passage.
“Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” (Verse 26)
Paul humbles his readers a little bit. It is not easy to hear pointed and objective assessment of one’s self. But I understand what Paul is trying to say, and why he is saying it in this way. For Paul – and from his perspective in human abilities – being wise, powerful, and of noble birth is not necessarily an assets. Especially if it gets in the way of believing and accepting the gift of salvation and redemption. Better to be of lessor stature and have grace than to be great & mighty but miss out on Christian belief.
“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.” (Verses 27 – 29)
The implication, I would like to believe on behalf of the believers in Corinth, is that God chose them.
“He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (Verses 30 – 31)
Let us move on to the Gospel passage. It is helpful during Holy Week to see at point what the gospel narrative is at, and how it relates to the other scriptural passages for that day.
“Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say–‘ Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.” (John 12:20 – 33)
It was the fifth Sunday of Lent that we read this passage. We talked about stepping back and considering the narrative as a story of the events at the time, and trying to be objective concerning what is going on. But we were drawn into the story again when Jesus said that the Voice that was heard was not for him; it was informative and for the benefit of those there. We as readers of the story became seekers (if you will) and were/are faced with a learning experience. Let us rejoin the story and see now what other things might be learned.
“The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” (Verse 34)
The term “Son of Man” does not denote an ordinary person but someone who is extraordinary, and sent by the Lord God for a special purpose. That is why the crowd questioned the elevated term that Jesus used. And perhaps wondering and questioning if Jesus was really referring to himself.
“Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.” (Verses 35 – 36)
The Voice that bestowed a blessing on Jesus extended an invitation to the hearers of the Voice to believe in something (Someone) that had never been known before. Some who hear & witness the blessing from above may chose not to believe such “foolishness”. But it is this exact foolishness that is essential. One must put aside wisdom to believe what may be defined as unbelievable. But there is a relatively small window for believing. The crowd who heard Jesus are told walk into faith while the light is before them. Some did, and some did not.
But what about us, in this season of Lent and in this Holy Week? Do we have the luxury of time? After all, there will be a Lent season in 2022 as well. Ah, beloved reader. Who knows what the year to come may hold? Jesus had a role at the end of Holy Week that had never existed before his birth. It was created specifically for humanity. While the role may be ongoing, our ability to believe and conform our lives will not. And I venture to say that when we hear that Divine Voice in our present world, it may be too late!