Every time I see the title of the sermon series, I cringe. I’m preaching through a series on 2 Corinthians and chose “God of Weakness” as the title. I can conceive of God as a God of glory, a God of holiness, a God of love. But God of weakness? It sounds scandalous. It may be the ultimate paradox. The words God and weakness just don’t belong together.
Crucified in Weakness
Every time, I have to walk myself through my discomfort. I have to preach the truth of 2 Corinthians 13:4 to myself: “For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God.”
Paul is clear: there is nothing weak in Jesus himself. “He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you,” he writes (2 Corinthians 13:3). He’s the image of God, and all of God’s fullness dwells in him (Colossians 1:15-20). When I read about his strength, it causes me to pause. “The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters” (Revelation 1:14-15). Who can conceive of Jesus as weak?
Yet, Paul says, Jesus was crucified in weakness. At the cross, Jesus chose a posture of weakness. “Our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished his mighty purpose by becoming weak,” preached Charles Spurgeon, “through his weakness he became able to suffer, and to die—in order to save us from the thralldom of sin.”
According to Paul, Jesus’ weakness isn’t the final word. “For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God” (2 Corinthians 13:4). Jesus’ weakness is the prelude to his glory.
A Paradigm for Living
Jesus’ weakness at the cross is not just a historical footnote, but the paradigm for Christian living. “For we also are weak in him,” Paul continues, “but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God”
Those of us who follow Jesus aren’t called to dominate others. We’re called to humble obedience, an obedience that often entails suffering. According to Paul, weakness is evidence that his ministry is authentic. We tend to view weakness as a problem. Paul sees it as the normal Christian life.
“He does not save men today by the strength of his ministers, but by their weakness,” continues Spurgeon, “and it is not the power of the gospel, judged after the manner of the flesh, that is to conquer nations; but, as in our Lord’s case, the victory is to be won by weakness.”
How God Works
I cringe at the title “God of Weakness” because it doesn’t capture the glory of God. But it’s a valid title, at least as we look at the cross. I wonder if I cringe because I’m not yet familiar enough with God’s ways. God works through weakness. It’s how he shows his power.
Atheist Richard Dawkins once mocked a Christian for his belief in Jesus. “He believes that the creator of the universe, the God who devised the laws of physics, the laws of mathematics, the physical constants … that this genius of mathematics and physical science could not think of a better way to rid the world of sin than to come to this little speck of cosmic dust and have himself tortured and executed so that he could forgive.”
Indeed. Who could have imagined that God would choose to work this way? To Dawkins, it’s an argument against the Christian faith. For Paul, it’s the very center of the Christian faith.
The cross reveals that God works through weakness. He did on Good Friday, and he continues to do so today.