Metropolitan United Methodist Church, Indian Head, MD
Flash without power
August 2, 2020

Flash without power

August 2, 2020

Romans 9:1-5
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

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Paul begins his attempt to explain the Jewish rejection of Jesus Christ. He begins not in anger but in sorrow. Here is no tempest of anger and no outbreak of enraged condemnation; here is the poignant sorrow of the broken heart. Paul was like the God whom he loved and served: he hated the sin, but he loved the sinner. No one will ever even begin to try to save men and women without first loving them. Paul sees the Jews not as people to be lashed with anger but as people whose salvation he yearns and longs for out of love.

Willingly, Paul would have laid down his life if he could have won the Jews for Christ. It may be that his thoughts were going back to one of the greatest episodes in Jewish history. When Moses went up the mountain to receive the law from the hands of God, the people who had been left below sinned by making the golden calf and worshipping it. God was angry with them; and then Moses prayed the great prayer: ‘But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, blot me out of the book that you have written’ (Exodus 32:32).

Paul says that for the sake of his own people he would consent to be accursed if it would do any good. The word he uses is anathema, and it is a terrible word. A thing which was anathema was under the ban; it was devoted to God for utter destruction. When a Gentile city was taken, everything in it was devoted to utter destruction, for it was polluted (Deuteronomy 2:34, 3:6; Joshua 6:17, 7:1–26). If people tried to lure Israel away from the worship of the true God, they were pitilessly condemned to utter destruction (Deuteronomy 13:8–11). The dearest thing in all Paul’s life was the fact that nothing could separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus; but, if it would do anything to save his own people, he would even accept banishment from God.[1]

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  1. William Barclay, The Letter to the Romans, 3rd ed. fully rev. & updated, The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 145–146.


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