Saturday of the Week of Lent V
What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on law did not succeed in fulfilling the law. Why? Because they did not pursue it through faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall; and he who believes him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 9:30-33)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Exodus 12:31–51; Psalm 78:36–72; Romans 9:27–10:4
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2Dg9nUZ
The Jews who wouldn’t believe in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus are not the only ones in history who have “stumbled over the stumbling stone.” There have been many who pursued a righteousness based on their own achievement, accomplishments and activities. Prior to the Reformation, the Church offered salvation and standing before God based on how much you contributed to the treasury, how many prayers you said at the reliquary, how many pilgrimages you made to prove your worth before God. The entire religious system was based on merit, not grace and faith, which gave rise to Luther, the 95 Theses and, finally, the reform of the Church.
Others have “stumbled over the stumbling stone.” Mormons, while arguing that they are just like any other Christian church, continue to hold to the teaching that no one can die for another’s sins, not even Jesus. So, he becomes a model, showing you how to save yourself by your good works. But ultimately, you have to be a Mormon in good standing to attain your own salvation, become your own god and have your own world to populate.
Interestingly, Islam is the same kind of religious system, based on good works and adhering to the teachings of Mohammed, even when it requires violence. The religion of Islam is not a religion of peace, nor is it a religion of mercy and grace in response to the love and forgiveness of God, for Jesus’ sake.
Why in the world would people reject the Gospel of God’s gift of grace, in Jesus? It makes no sense, except that holding to a religion that makes us the god of our own salvation perfectly suits our fallen human nature. If the original sin is “wanting to be like God,” then the final goal of our idolatry is thinking that we can save ourselves: no other Savior needed or wanted. There is no place for Jesus, if I’m going to save myself.
Paul reminds us that those who want to live by the law will die by the law. It’s as simple as that. Those who believe in Jesus will not be put to shame!
Prayer: Jesus, you are not a stumbling rock to me, but the solid foundation of my hope and my salvation. Thank you, Lord! Amen.
Lenten Response: Look up Luther’s 95 Theses on the web and skim through them to find the good news of Jesus proclaimed.
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.