The Scandal of the Cross

“And we thank God continually because, when you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”    ~1 Thessalonians 2:13

How did those people in Thessalonica know that what Paul was preaching was the Word of God and not just the latest philosophy of the day? How did they know the message was truly divine and not human?

It occurs to me that maybe because it was so radically different from anything anybody else was teaching, it had to be from someone other than man and from somewhere other than this world. The message of the cross — the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus — was scandalous. It was foolishness to Jews and Gentiles. It was an affront to formal education and good common sense. The message of the cross goes completely against human philosophy and technology, totally against wisdom and experience.

The Jews in Thessalonica were searching for an earthly Messiah. The Greeks in Thessalonica were looking for larger than life gods. And Paul and Silas and Timothy blow into town preaching about a poor carpenter turned homeless preacher who was executed by the state as a disgraced criminal.

It’s like telling you today that the earth is flat! And expecting you to believe it!

That’s why Paul writes at the end of 1 Corinthians 1 that God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things, the despised things, “the things that are not,” to nullify the things that are. And it’s in those things God chose where we find our “righteousness, holiness, and redemption.”

The message of the cross turns the world upside down.

And I think we’ve lost some of that aspect of it — that shocking, stunning, jarring aspect of the Word of God that reverses the natural order.

Is it because we’ve heard it for so long? Are we desensitized to it? Or is it because it is so radical and shocking and scandalous we’ve attempted to soften it up? Have we changed it in any ways, or left some key parts of the gospel of the cross out, so that our lives or the lives of our friends aren’t rocked by it?

Peter Berger wrote this in a book called Worldly Wisdom, Christian Foolishness: “Trying to adapt the gospel message, or tweak the nature of the church or in any way alter Christian beliefs so they conform more closely to the society in which we live is foolish and futile and damaging. I would argue, sinful. If the gospel looks like or sounds like the world, then it’s not the gospel. Because the gospel is not of this world.”


DanMarinoThirteen days until football season. And the best player to ever wear #13 is Dan Marino. As a college quarterback at Pittsburgh, he led the Panthers to three straight 11-1 seasons and was named All-America his junior year after throwing for 37 touchdowns. His senior year was less than great — 17 TDs and 23 picks — but the Miami Dolphins still made him their #1 pick, the 27th player taken overall in 1983, the 6th QB.

In his rookie season, Marino took Shula’s ‘Fins to the Super Bowl, a loss to the 49ers, and became the first ever rookie quarterback to start in the Pro Bowl. He made eight more of those Pro Bowls during his 17 year career in Miami. But he never made it to another Super Bowl.

Marino had one of the quickest releases ever for an NFL quarterback and rarely got sacked. He threw for over 61,000 yards, 420 touchdowns, and compiled over 400 yards passing in a game 13 times. 21 times he threw at least four TDs in a game. And he had six seasons of over 4,000 yards. The only quarterbacks to ever do that more than once are Warren Moon and Dan Fouts. And they only managed it twice.

Marino holds 29 NFL passing records, spots in the college and pro football halls of fame, and some very cheesy Isotoner glove commercials. And he’s the greatest to ever wear #13.

I always unveil Saturday’s player on Friday. But I’m hesitant today because #12 in the countdown deserves his own post, his own page. But here we go.

No brainer.

ClassicBlueJerseyThe best football player to ever wear #12 is Roger Staubach.


Yeah, right.

Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowls in six years and deserves honorable mention despite this hilarious hair restoration TerryBradshawadvertisement. By the way, I do think Hollywood Henderson was wrong. If you spotted Bradshaw both the “c” and the “a” he probably could spell “cat.” Just the “c”? That’s a better argument. (Shout out to Fleming! Love you, brother!)

Joe Namath deserves credit for his brash personality and guaranteed Jets win in Super Bowl III that sealed theBobGriese merger between JoeWilliethe NFL and the AFL, despite this awful Sports Illustrated cover.

And Bob Griese was great (nice goggles).

But Staubach is the best.

As the starting quarterback at Navy for three seasons (1962-64) Staubach set NavyDodger28 school records and finished with an amazing 63% completion rate. And he threw only 19 interceptions during those three years. In ’63 he won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and was named All-America after leading the Midshipmen to a 9-1 record, the only loss coming against Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Good enough to earn Staubach speedy induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

His pro career got started a little late due to his service in Vietnam. But when Staubach began playing in Dallas for Tom Landry’s Cowboys, the glory days had finally arrived. Staubach is the one who guided the Cowboys from Next Year’s Champions to World Champions, taking them to four Super Bowls, beating the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI and the Broncos in Super Bowl XII. During Staubach’s eleven year career in Dallas, which ended prematurely due to all the concussions, he threw for almost 23,000 yards and 153 TDs, he ran for more than 2,200 yards and scored 20 more TDs rushing, and finished with a passer rating of 83.4.

SqueakyCleanHe was the clean-cut, no-cussing, faithful-to-his-wife-and-family, never-late-for-curfew, Christian leader of America’s Team (As J. Bailey says, those were the days when the church was strong and Tom Landry was coaching the Cowboys.) He coined the term “Hail Mary Pass” in the closing seconds of that playoff game against the Vikings (check out the stunned looks on the faces of the Vikings players and fans in this picture! Geoff, Drew did not push off on Nate Wright!); he called Tom Landry “the man in the funny hat”; he handed off to Duane Thomas, Walt Garrison, Tony Dorsett, Calvin Hill, Robert Newhouse, and Ron Springs; he threw deep to Drew Pearson, Tony Hill, Golden Richards, and Mike Ditka; he made the shotgun formation popular again after a 40-year absence; and he scrambled and dodged and ran like crazy. In his last ever regular season game, he beat the Redskins at Texas Stadium 35-34 on a fade route to Tony Hill to capture the division title. And the following week he completed his last ever professional pass, an illegal catch by offensive lineman Herb Scott in a playoff loss to the Rams.

Growing up in Dallas in the ’70s, I wanted to be just like him. He ruled the city, the state, and the world as far as I could tell. I got his autograph in the parking lot at Dallas Christian one morning after he had spoken at chapel. And I sat next to him at the news conference at Texas Stadium announcing Tex Schramm’s induction into the Cowboys Ring of Honor. He was my childhood hero and a role model for anyone. Roger Staubach is the greatest to ever wear #12.

No brainer.




  1. Paul Dennis

    The Vikings still do not accept the loss. See this article written in 2001.

  2. Kipi

    Yep…no brainer. Roger was my hero growing up. He was the perfect face for the Cowboys of that era…the Christy Mathewson of pro football. (You know I had to get the baseball reference in there.)

  3. Allan

    My brother-in-law, Geoff, who’s a huge Vikings van, and I argue back and forth about who pushed off on whom all the time. It’s kind of a running gag. Back in ’04 I had Drew on as a guest for a pre-NFL-draft talk show I was hosting. We naturally began talking about that “Hail Mary” play and all Drew confessed to was “contact.” He definitely said he “did not push off.” I’m not sure where that Minnesota reporter gets his info. Drew just says he used a swim move to engage Wright with his left shoulder and then came over the top with his right hand to gain inside position. Drew claims there was contact, but no push or interference.
    Remember, too, that Fran Tarkenton’s dad was watching the game on TV in his home and had a heart attack right after that play and died within minutes. Drew told me that was so very weird because they were so excited and loud and celebrating in their post-game locker room. But when they all found out Tarkenton had lost his dad, the whole mood turned somber and quiet. Also, remember that the Cowboys faced a 4th and 16 two plays before that “Hail Mary” and Drew made a sideline catch for 22 yards to keep the drive alive. One of the great games in NFL history.

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