In the March 27, 2000 issue of Newsweek, Kenneth L. Woodward, long time religion editor for Newsweek, writes in his article The Other Jesus, “Clearly the cross is what separates the Christ of Christianity from every other Jesus. In Judaism, there is no precedent for a Messiah who dies, much less as a criminal as Jesus did. In Islam, the story of Jesus’ death is rejected as an affront to Allah himself. Hindus can accept only a Jesus who passes into peaceful samadhi, a yogi who escapes the degradation of death. ‘The figure of the crucified Christ,’ says Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, ‘is a painful image to me. It does not contain joy or peace and this does not do justice to Jesus.’ Indeed the cross has become a stumbling block to many religions today.”
But this is nothing new. Since Jesus’ birth, He has always been a stumbling block. For God purposed to send a Jesus who was not clever, strong, rich or powerful in the eyes of the world, but rather sent to us a Jesus who was meek, humble, and devoid of worldly position and power. And certainly He was seen as weak and powerless and despised by men in His death. They didn’t understand His compliance to the will of God. God sent us a Jesus who could empathize with the weakness, suffering, rejection, persecution, poverty and injustice of humankind. He sent a Jesus who was approachable, kind and in whom we could find not worldly acceptance and power but rather acceptance by our Creator God and peace and rest for our weary souls.
Isaiah spoke to this in his prophecy (chapter 53),
2″He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain…
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,…
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions
he was crushed for our iniquities
the punishment that brought us peace was on him…”
Yes, the cross of Christ was purposefully designed by God, in His wisdom and foreknowledge, to be a stumbling block and an offence to the unbelieving, unconverted world. Paul wrote almost 2000 years ago to the Corinthians (chapter 1) the following:
“18 For the word of the cross is foolishness 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 CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”
20 Where is the wise man? 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 through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the (gospel) message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
A Music Link: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Selah https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzxRovCHTUs