STONE OF STUMBLING

Scripture Reading: Romans 9:30-33

“What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone.” (Romans 8:30-32)

It seems ironic that the Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness by seeking to observe the law received righteousness, but the unbelieving Jews who sought righteousness by strict observance to the law did not get it. The Jews had a rich history with the law, the covenant and the promises of God, but they missed becoming righteous. The Gentiles, on the other hand, had none of these things but ended up receiving it.

Why was this the case? God made it clear that no one could be saved through works of the law. It was impossible, for no one can ever perfectly keep the whole law. Therefore, by God’s grace we are justified through faith in Jesus Christ and not by our efforts to achieve righteousness by works of the law.

The real stumbling block to the Jews was Jesus — “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame” (v. 33). Jesus became a stumbling stone to many Jews. They failed to acknowledge Him to be the Messiah. Instead, they continued in their feeble efforts to keep the law, but they failed miserably.

This shows again how hard it is for religious people to understand the gospel. They get so steeped in their religion and moralism that they fail to see how desperate they are for a Savior. The concept of grace is diametrically opposite to the idea of works righteousness.

Lord Jesus, at times I find myself forgetting the gospel and turning to religion. I forget how desperate I am for You. I begin to take pride in my religion and begin to trust in my efforts rather than in You alone. Forgive me and help me see again the wonder of the gospel of grace.

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