The egg helped resurrect the sale of boxed cake mix. Yes, the egg. You see, early instant cake mix only needed water. Dump the mix, add water, stir, bake, and voilà! you had cake. However, sales of boxed cake mix flattened between 1956 and 1960. So, General Mills tasked psychologist Ernest Dichter with solving the problem. Dichter gathered a focus group and analyzed why so many women ignored these mixes. He discovered that:
…the very simplicity of mixes — just add water and stir — made women feel self-indulgent for using them. There wasn’t enough work involved. In order to enjoy the emotional rewards of presenting a homemade cake, they had to be persuaded that they had really baked it, and such an illusion was impossible to maintain if they did virtually nothing.
So, the egg was added. By including ingredients to the mix, bakers could contribute and feel less guilty for using easy mixes. Yes, even though instant cake can only call for water, studies show that people tend to embrace instant cake mix if they can contribute to the baking process. Sound silly?
Kind of… But then again, consider the purpose for the season of Lent. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). God gives those words for your comfort: Jesus saves you. Still, God’s simple promise can sound too easy. Many still feel this drive to participate in saving themselves. The hope is to feel less guilty about receiving free forgiveness.
In spite of human emotions, God’s simple promise still stands. Keep Preaching: ‘Christ Crucified for Me’! This message powerfully blasts away foolish human wisdom. So that You can live foolish among the wise of the world.
Our reading from 1 Corinthians 1:18 says: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Now (in this verse), the ‘cross’ does not mean two wooden beams tied together and stuck into the ground. No— here, you reflect on everything Jesus Christ suffered on that cross. Blood dripping, groaning cries, painful agony, arms stretched out of socket, life leaving. Not just the physical torment, but you witness the bone-crushing punishment for sin and the forgiveness Jesus wins. All this— the suffering, the penalty, the freedom— combines to make ‘the cross’ of Christ. God made [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). God pummels his Son for the crimes you (and I) commit. Then, God turns to you, smiles, and embraces you. Yes, those who believe, those who trust this message of the cross stand saved.
Does it sound too good to be true? …too easy? Human wisdom says, “Yeah!” I mean, just look at our justice system. If you steal clothes, you get arrested. You stand trial. You pay a fine (or jail time). You stand accountable for your actions. Human wisdom wants to transfer our justice system onto God. If you hurt your friends, God sees that. God gets angry at you. You pay the fine. You undo ‘bad’ with more ‘good.’ Maybe you are extra nice, or maybe God will forgive you after giving more offering [money] or coming to church [more] or reading your Bible [more]. Human wisdom pulls us to think that we must participate in receiving God’s forgiveness.
This is what human reason does. ‘Reason,’ that is, the information your brain takes in and (then) determines must be ‘true’ or ‘right.’ That is why guilt torments us; we trust our emotions more than the Word—and our emotions tell us that God is an angry Judge. That is why you may never feel forgiven; you rely on your emotions. If you feel bad, then you believe you are not forgiven. Human reason silences what God calls ‘true’ and exalts what you feel is ‘true’! Human reason calls the message of the cross ‘foolish!’ Too silly to be true. Too unreal to trust. Too easy. So, you reject what God says happened and believe what you consider must be right.
God calls that thinking “foolish.’ For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” God does not ask if the message of the cross sounds reasonable. He does not invite changes to that message. He simply says, “My Son paid your penalty. You are free.” If that sounds too simple, then the fault lies with the heart— and not with God!
So, Keep Preaching: ‘Christ Crucified for Me’! This message powerfully blasts away foolish human wisdom. Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Yes, God chooses to save you through a crucified Christ. Yes, God chooses to lump your guilt onto an innocent Man. God chooses to hold Jesus accountable for crimes he never committed. God chooses to strike Jesus instead of you. Sound fair? No! Yet, this is what God chooses to do. Christ crucified means: Done! There is nothing you must do. Because God sends Jesus to the cross, you stand forgiven.
You can be sure because God chooses to record a crucified Christ in the Bible. God chooses to create faith through preaching a crucified Christ. This message powerfully blasts away foolish human wisdom.
But… what now? I mean, you want to do something, don’t you? At least, that is what worldly wisdom says. God must expect you to do something. Maybe prove yourself Christian. Maybe behave really good. Maybe make some personal commitment. What does God expect?
Well, keep the order straight. First, you trust the message of the cross. This is faith. You already walk along the narrow road towards heaven. If you already walk towards heaven, there is nothing additional that you must do to get there.
So, what do you do? Well, if God has already forgiven you, then do the only thing left to do: Rejoice! Bask in God’s completed work to secure your eternal future. Live in peace! No, God does not ask you to prove yourself Christian each day. He does the heavy-lifting and the dirty work. He lifts off that weight so that you can rejoice! Or, put it this way: You can live foolish among the wise of the world.
Because the world will call you ‘foolish’ for thinking only Jesus saves you— but it has always thought this. Jews demand miraculous signs… The Jewish nation kept urging Jesus (1) to storm into Jerusalem on a majestic stallion, (2) to miraculously produce endless food (just like he did with those five loaves and two fish), (3) to reestablish Jerusalem as a golden city. Jews demanded Christ to reign, not save! Greeks look for wisdom… They crave new, mentally challenging teachings. They want new opinions and different ideas to add into their vast storeroom of knowledge. Each group wanted Jesus to satisfy their expectations. They do not want a Savior. [B]ut we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles… Both Jew and Gentile refused to believe God took on flesh. That Almighty God cares for people. That a divine being dies for criminals. That the life of Jesus actually counts for you. Yet, God sent Christ crucified! They cherished human knowledge over the Word. Their human wisdom tripped them into unbelief.
Yes, the world may think one death on the cross is too easy to save. They may expect Jesus to reign instead of suffer. [But] to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. God chooses to work through his Word. He creates faith and gives faith, and then gives us touchable signs to which we might point for comfort. You may wonder: “Am I saved?” Yes, baptism saves me (1 Peter 3:21; Titus 3:5-6). The water touching my head and the words my ears heard is a baptism— and that baptism saved. You may ask: “Am I forgiven?” Yes, the Lord’s Supper assures me of forgiveness (Matthew 26:28). The bread and wine touching my lips and the words present bring forgiveness into my life, my spiritual account. God’s promise makes these tools powerful. God attaches a promise with water; he attaches a promise with bread and wine. God chooses to carry forgiveness into your heart in this way.
Many will scoff at that. Some consider baptism as an individual’s commitment to God. Others see the Lord’s Supper as just a memorial celebration supper (and nothing more). They reach this conclusion because it just makes sense that God would not act in this way. That’s fine, rely on human wisdom— but remember, the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. God does not ask if his ways make sense. He reveals his ways for your comfort.
So, live foolish among the wise of the world. Christ crucified means you can stand sure eternal life because Jesus suffered, died, and rose again for you. This is not too good to be true because Jesus has said that it is not too good to be true. It says so here in the Word. It became yours in baptism. It remains yours in the Lord’s Supper. You can attend a funeral of a Christian and say, “Yes, he is in heaven because Jesus did everything necessary to bring him there.” You can tell your friend, “Yes, I will go to heaven.” That is not too bold to say. Jesus makes this promise in his Word. Even though your past may be littered with hurt, you can remain sure that life is yours because God is pleased to give life through his Word. You do not need to search for powerful signs or good feelings in order to convince you that all is well between and God. The world may look for such signs, but here, in the Word, you find certainty.
This is the purpose for the season of Lent. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). God gives those words for your comfort: Jesus saves you. Still, God’s simple promise can sound too easy. Many still feel this drive to participate in saving themselves. The hope is to feel less guilty about receiving free forgiveness.
Yet, Jesus removes guilt—and he does it (1) completely and (2) freely. You do not need to participate in finishing the work or contributing to your forgiveness. Christ does it all so that you can rejoice! God’s simple promise still stands. Keep Preaching: ‘Christ Crucified for Me’! This message powerfully blasts away foolish human wisdom. So that You can live foolish among the wise of the world.