Read: Romans 11:11-24
So do not become proud, but stand in awe. (v. 20 NRSV)
Lake Emma sits nestled in a small canyon at 12,000 feet in the shadow of Colorado’s Mount Democrat. Standing on one side, I yelled “Hello!” at the top of my lungs, counting four or five echoes before fading out. An echo provides an apt metaphor for Paul’s understanding of God’s mission with one exception. The echoes of God’s grace don’t fade; they grow in volume with each reverberation.
Listen for the echo of grace in today’s reading. God fulfills his promises to Old Testament Israel in Jesus. The gospel sounds off! Many Israelites rejected Jesus. In their “stumble” and “trespass” (v. 11), the gospel echoes to Gentiles, who are “grafted in among the others” (v. 17). Paul experienced this pattern through Acts. He began in each city by preaching to Jews. When they rejected Jesus, he preached to Gentiles, and many were saved (see Acts 18, for example). Paul desires for his own Jewish people to see the echo of God’s grace towards Gentiles and become jealous, and so be grafted in again by God (v. 14). Their return will be as “life from the dead” (v. 15), exploding in good news to the world. The crescendo of grace grows.
There is only one response for those of us grafted in after others’ rejection: “do not become proud, but stand in awe” (v. 20 NRSV). We did nothing to deserve being included. The growing crescendo of grace simply swept over us. May our inclusion lead many others to become followers of Jesus. —Jon Opgenorth
As you pray, bow in awe of God’s grace.