30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law[o] instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said,
“I am placing a stone in Jerusalem[p] that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”[q]
It is ironical to see the Gentiles not trying to follow God’s standards were made right with God, and yet the people of Israel who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, missed it. This becomes a stumbling block, a disgrace for the Israelites, to see the Gentiles justified by God, yet they miss it. This is how grace of God works - it flows from trusting in Him, as this was what the Gentiles did .. only believe in Him. Period.
When we trust in our own strengths, abilities, talents to please God, akin to the Israelites trying to get right with God by keeping the law, we are basically telling God that we can come to Him by our own strength,.. that we do not need Him to come to us…that we still want to take some credit for our actions. When a person finds difficulty in accepting the grace of God and to embrace His finished work, there is still that lingering self that is crying for attention and recognition.
Praise God, when we come to an end of ourselves we can declare …..For when I am weak, then I am strong (2Corinthians 12:10). This is how to experience the grace of God.
Please take a look at this encounter between Jesus and the Jews . Jesus told the Jews in John 5: 39-47
39-40"You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you'll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from me the life you say you want.
41-44"I'm not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God's love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?
45-47"But don't think I'm going to accuse you before my Father. Moses, in whom you put so much stock, is your accuser. If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me. If you won't take seriously what he wrote, how can I expect you to take seriously what I speak?"
The behaviour of the Jews, surprisingly, is no different from our times. It is easy to give honour and profusing accolades to “well known” preachers when they come to preach, yet we can find difficulty to acknowledge the goodness and grace of God. We can talk convincingly on all about the Law of Moses yet we can miss the main plot that they are shadows/tutors all pointing us eventually to Jesus. This is amazing and ironical!
Rejoice, we can see Jesus when we acknowledge Him. He is resident in us, all because of His finished work on the cross. The purpose of the Law is to bring an end to ourselves so that we can see our dire need of the Saviour Jesus,.. so that we can acknowledge that it is not about what we do but what He has done. When we fail to understand what the purpose of the Law ( Point of the Law) is for in the scheme of salvation, we will find difficulty in comprehending the grace and love of God and His finished work for us.
Rejoice. Let us see the forest amongst the trees.