1 Corinthians. 2:6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
If they had understood God’s wisdom, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory?
Paul will spend most of the first part of the Corinthian letter saying that the cross is the heart of the message God has for the word. I can’t imagine anyone reading Paul’s explanation of why he preached “Christ crucified” and not coming away with a conviction that Jesus really was the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
Yet here’s something else. If the wise and powerful of this age had recognized who Jesus was, if they had recognized God’s eternal wisdom and at work, they would never have crucified Jesus.
What would they have done? They would have recognized that this man wasn’t a man at all, but was God with us, the Messiah long expected and much more. They would have enthroned him; worshipped him.
Some might think that Paul is referring to a God who isn’t sovereign, but has contingency plans. Was the crucifixion “plan B,” with a coronation as “plan A?”
God knows the hearts of men perfectly. The centuries and centuries of sacrificial imagery and teaching weren’t a mistake. They were preparation for the cross.
Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 aren’t meaningful only because of the crucifixion. They are God’s plan for redemption through the cross seen in advance.
The offering of Isaac wasn’t a way to learn about Abraham’s levels of obedience. It was, in horrible preview, the picture of Calvary itself; the offering of “your son, your beloved son, the son that you love.”
No, Paul isn’t talking about a contingency plan. He’s rhetorically going down a road that wasn’t ever going to be travelled.
Every so often, someone will ask me why, if the Jewish leadership read the same Old Testament scriptures that we do, there wasn’t a recognition of Jesus in advance. How come the Pharisees didn’t realize what God was up to? “Hey…..we’re going to crucify the Messiah! We can’t do that!”
Stop and think about it. If they had know the wisdom of God….they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory. IF…..if. If they had known who he was, they wouldn’t have executed Jesus.
But such is the wisdom of God that he saves his people by means of the very rejection of the savior.
Think about that.
For centuries before, in picture after picture, the lamb, the sacrifice, the servant had been portrayed as the one to rescue and remake Israel. When the moment arrives, not even these exact predictions can stop those who condemn and kill Jesus from doing so.
The wisdom of God was standing before them, with all of history and scripture testifying to his identity and mission, and they crucified him.
Exactly as the scripture said they would. Exactly as was required for our salvation.
The free an uncoerced actions of men. The unfathomable, unstoppable plan of God.
A few weeks later, Peter would stand in the streets of Jerusalem and say…
Acts 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
And then, these words of Paul.
1 Cor. 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
1Cor. 1:20 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? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
If they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory. But God was one step ahead of us all the time. It is a mystery and it is salvation.