Tuesday in the Thirty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

Galatians 5:7-12

The Scandal of the Cross

When speaking of the cross in verse eleven, my ESV Bible translates a Greek word there with the word “offense” as in “the offense of the cross.”  There’s nothing wrong with that translation.  But I would like to shine a light on the Greek word behind that English word.  The Greek word is σκανδαλον, which is transliterated, “skandalon.”  I think you can hear the English word which is derived from that Greek word—that’s right: “scandal.”  I don’t know if saying that the cross is scandalous sounds any more surprising to us today than saying that it is an offense, but I thought it an interesting point to bring out. 

So the cross is offensive and scandalous.  Why?  How so?  What makes it so?  And it seems that Paul is saying that it is so because it leaves us naked.  We can’t clothe ourselves with works of the law.  We can’t cover ourselves with ceremonies and rituals.  We can’t cry enough, hate ourselves enough, or move mountains enough with our mustard seed worth of faith to be able to say to God, “Look what I did!”  No, it is all of grace.  And though I tend to believe that ours is a day when bargain hunting for grace on sale is a far greater problem than purchasing it on the higher end, both the “department store” and “retailers” attempt to sale us grace on the cheap.  For grace is so priceless it cannot be bought.  There’s nothing we can do to earn it.  On the other hand, the one who treats his sins with levity has never experienced it. 

Paul understood grace as being costly.  For preaching God’s grace through the scandal of the cross, he was persecuted.  People don’t want God’s grace; they want the grace they give themselves, the grace they earn that makes them feel good about themselves; or, perhaps the grace that winks at their sin and thus relieves them of guilt.  Neither one is worthy of the name “grace.”  God’s grace cost Him His Son, and if we shall be his disciples, God’s grace will cost us as well—our possessions, our friends, our families, our lives.  And if that’s not worth it, then we’ve yet to experience God’s grace.

Paul expresses himself, to say the least, in verse twelve: “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!”  Ouch!  Given that the issue was circumcision, well, it’s easy to see the humor.  But we must see here, as we have in other places, that God’s saving grace in the cross of Christ was no small matter to Paul; the message of salvation by grace through the faith in Christ Jesus IS the gospel, and no angel from heaven would dare tamper with that message.  “So let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured, for here we have no lasting city (Hebrews 13:13-14).

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

Leave a Reply