As we come to the end of 2 Corinthians, let’s consider a theme that has been prominent throughout both of Paul’s letters to Corinthian church.
The Corinthians were lured away from the gospel by their worldly culture. Whether it be by the world’s lax moral standards or by “impressive” false teachers, the Corinthians failed to grasp the paradox of God’s kingdom… True strength can only be found in weakness!
Consider this chart*: (I love charts!) *adapted from ESV Study Bible, Crossway
|Verse||Weakness||Power (or strength)|
|1 Cor. 1:25||The weakness of God||is stronger than man|
|1 Cor. 1:27||God chose what is weak||to shame the strong|
|1 Cor. 2:3,5||in weakness and in fear||but in the power of God|
|1 Cor. 15:43||sown in weakness||raised in power|
|2 Cor. 12:9||I will boast…of my weakness||so that the power of Christ may rest upon me|
|2 Cor. 13:3||not weak in dealing with you||but … powerful among you|
|2 Cor. 13:4||he was crucified in weakness||but lives by the power of God|
|2 Cor. 13:4||we also are weak in him||but … live with him in the power of God|
|2 Cor. 13:9||we are glad when we are weak||and you are strong|
This chart illustrates the importance of the paradoxical relationship between strength and weakness. If you think back to the restored-exiles in Jerusalem, they surely grasped this concept of strength and weakness – considering that they had lost their nation and were subject to the whims of a foreign king … yet through God’s strength they persevered to re-build Jerusalem!
All three of today’s Psalms would have been meaningful to the restored exiles of Jerusalem as they speak of God “helping” or “rescuing” those in distress.
Psalm 118 is especially poignant because it describes a joyful celebration after God saved the people from “the nations” (Psalm 118:10). Many believe this Psalm could have been sung at the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem recorded in Nehemiah 12 (Psalm 118:19-20).
The people definitely sung parts of this Psalm as Jesus entered Jerusalem hundreds of years later (Psalm 118:26; Luke 19:38). The people were celebrating what they thought was their future king entering Jerusalem to take his throne and overthrow the Roman government in order to return Israel to its former glory.
But Jesus was not coming in strength. He was coming in weakness. He was coming to die – not to conquer. He was coming to make the final sacrifice.
This is the way of God’s kingdom. Strength is found in humility, service, sacrifice and love. Strength is manifested through weakness.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation (Psalm 118:14).