The Stumbling Stone

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” (Romans 9:30–33, NIV)

Of all the names given to Jesus Christ, I find stumbling stone the aptest description of his relationship to most people. Sure… the gospel is a sweet message for the saved. But it’s an affront to the lost. And since the lost vastly outnumber the saved, most people are stumbling over something… so, over what? … or should I say, over whom?

The verses above had “God's chosen people” in view, and indeed, the Jews were the first people to stumble over Christ. This is why Paul chose a quote from Isaiah to admonish them. You see, there was no greater “offense” to the Jews of that day than Jesus Christ. As a people, they stumbled over him then… they stumble over him now… and most people stumble with them.

So, what kind of people stumble? People who are walking in darkness or people who are not paying attention — which as a Christian, is how I view the world. It is a dark place, and it’s a busy place. As such, people are stumbling because they cannot see and/or because they are distracted. Mobile phones come to mind here.

By way of comparison, we Christians do not walk in darkness. We are children of the day. We see and we embrace the Christ. But people continue to stub their toes on Jesus today… and then they curse him (and often us) because of their own blindness!

The gospel of Jesus Christ is — and it should be — an edgy message. It says to the unsaved, “You are going to hell… and nothing that you, your clergymen, your churches, or any of your friends can do can fix that.”

There is this one person that you hate, however… and he can save you. His name is Jesus Christ, and God says that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, NIV) — and this is the part that makes many stumble. Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.

We Christians do not stumble over Jesus because he is not a stumbling stone to us. He’s the Savior… and those who have their gaze elsewhere — who are seeking other paths to heaven (or who just don’t care) — will surely stumble.

At one time, that kind of stumbling was limited to the Jewish religious establishment. But now, he’s everybody’s “problem” … and everybody will deal with that rock as they enter eternity.

So, will you stumble over the Jesus — the rock of your rejection? Or will you receive him as your Savior — the rock of your salvation? If you receive him now, you’ll walk in his light… and you shall never stumble into an eternity beyond description… beyond regret.

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