The Cross is Not a Metaphor

When we move from one culture to another, we often change our illustrations to best fit our audience. For example, if you use a baseball metaphor in the United States, it may not work so well if you are in England. (I guess you need to hope you can easily translate it into a cricket metaphor.)

We have no issue changing these illustrations because it isn’t changing the true content of the message, just its packaging. We even are happy to change if it helps us avoid miscommunication, or worse, offending someone.

But this does not apply to the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul knows this will offend and trouble some of his audience, but he will not change his message. He may change his metaphors and other examples, but the crucifixion isn’t a metaphor. The cross is not merely an illustration of God’s love. It is not just a story, a parable or fable where what is important is only the lesson we can learn. The cross is a true event in our history that changed everything.

When Paul is addressing Jews and Greeks there is no substitute for the cross of Christ. Even though it is a stumbling block, he can’t avoid this central event. He won’t avoid the cross, because “to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks,” Christ, and him crucified, is the wisdom of God. He’s our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption.

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