“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
PAUL WAS GRATEFUL FOR HIS BRETHREN IN CORINTH, BUT HE WAS WORRIED ABOUT THEM. They had divided into factions, each group following its favorite teacher of the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:10–13). This kind of sectarianism was common in cities like Corinth, of course, where the public forum was filled with philosophers, orators, and teachers — each wooing followers by showing himself to be more on the intellectual cutting edge than the others.
Yet this was the very kind of attractiveness Paul had tried to avoid. “I decided,” he said, “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” And his reason was both clear and practical: “My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom . . . so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4,5).
Jesus Christ. It is hard for human reason to accept the fact that the Creator of the universe took human form in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, but that is exactly what the gospel affirms. Only once in history did such a thing happen — and having happened, the Person in whom it happened, Jesus, is now the One through whom God is offering to reconcile human beings to Himself.
And him crucified. When God became a man, He did so in order to die for our sins. It was not to be a great prophet or a perfect moral example but to die an atoning death that God entered our world as a human being. Speaking of Himself, Jesus said, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). So the gospel is not just the message of Christ; it is the message of Christ crucified. If God, in the person of Jesus Christ, did not die for our sins, then we are still lost.
When we come to Christ, accepting His invitation, we come empty-handed, recognizing our own insufficiency and lack of power to procure our own salvation. But more than that, we come yielding to His view of what our greatest need is. Whatever other gifts our “wisdom” might say are more needful, we are content to receive that for which He was crucified: the forgiveness of our sins.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling.
(Augustus Montague Toplady)