The Offense of the Cross
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness. – 1 Corinthians 1:23
The test of whether someone is teaching the cross rightly or wrongly is whether it is an offense to the natural man or not. If my preaching of this cross is not an offense to the natural man, then I am misrepresenting it. If it is something that makes him say “how beautiful,” “how wonderful,” “what a tragedy,” “what a shame,” I have not been preaching the cross truly. The preaching of the cross is an offense to the natural man. So this becomes the test of any man’s preaching.
Or let me put it in terms of the congregation. If this element of offense in the cross has never appeared to you, or if you have never felt it, then I say that you likewise have never known the truth about the cross of Christ. If you have never reacted against it and felt that it is an offense for you, I say you have never known it. It is always an offense to the natural man. Invariably, there is no exception. So if you have never felt it, then you have never seen it because you are a natural man. Nobody is born a Christian into this world. We have to be born again to become Christians, and as long as we are natural men and women, the cross is an offense.
So if we have never known this element of offense, either we have not seen it or we have had some misrepresentation of it. The cross is an offense to the mind of the natural man. It cuts across all his preconceived notions and ideas. It was a stumbling block to the Jews for this reason. They were expecting a Messiah to destroy the Roman conquerors. So when they found the One who claimed to be the Messiah dying in apparent weakness upon the cross, they were deeply wounded and offended. As long as we are natural men and women, the cross is an offense.
– Martyn Lloyd-Jones