Wednesday of Holy Week
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree, do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will be spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off. (Romans 11:17-22)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Exodus 15:1–21; Psalm 81; Romans 11:11–24
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2kNMlfU
Now that Paul has spoken of the hardness of heart and unbelief of some of the Jews, he is careful to remind the “Gentiles,” the non-Jews who have come to faith in Jesus, not to boast. It would be a natural inclination for Gentiles to believe themselves special, as some of the Jews rejected Jesus and now the Gospel has come to those who are not Jews, the chosen people.
It is our human nature to appreciate our special place, thinking we have it better, thinking we are better than those who were before us. Paul’s argument is intended to help the new Gentile Christians understand that it is through Israel that the Gospel has come to them. He wants them to understand that they have been grafted into the olive tree that was faithful Israel, and that without Israel, there would be no Son of David, no Son of God, no Jesus, Savior and Lord.
At the same time, Paul warns us all not to become weak, but to remain strong through faith! Do not become proud, but stand in awe of what God did through Israel. And remember, Paul says, God is always prepared to prune the branches to foster further fruit-bearing and the health and vitality of the tree.
The bidding prayers on Good Friday historically include prayers for the people Israel, that all would come to faith in Jesus. In recent years, in liberal Christian circles, it has been deemed politically incorrect to pray that Jews would become Christians. Therefore, these prayers are sometimes eliminated, other times adapted. It doesn’t seem arrogant or prideful to pray for the conversion of Jews and, yes, Muslims. It should be an act of love, care and compassion that we yearn for these brothers and sisters to enter into the joy of our Father God, through the Son, Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Hear the prayers of your Church that the people who you first made your own may arrive with us at the fullness of redemption. Enable all others in our world who do not acknowledge Christ to receive the truth of the Gospel; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Holy Week Response: Pray the bidding prayer above each day during the seven weeks of Easter, that we implore God to bring all his children into the Body of Christ.
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.