The first passage from scripture in today’s post comes from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
The verse in this passage about grumbling is what caught my eye. I grumble a lot, and question a lot. Most of the time I keep it to myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t do it. And it certainly doesn’t meant that God doesn’t know, or that it doesn’t affect my actions. This was a needed wake-up call for me. Hopefully its one that I can keep in mind past this post.
The second passage is from Colossians:
9 For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have come to fulness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12 and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him.
Reading those lines by St. Paul reminded me of these ones from the Prophet Isaiah:
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
I imagine back then Isaiah 53 would have been difficult enough for Jews to understand. But the fact that Jesus sacrificed Himself for not just the Jews, but the Gentiles as well, was (at first) largely incomprehensible to both. As St. Paul explained elsewhere, “the cross was a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.” I don’t think that much has changed in this regard; it is still a difficult concept to understand for many. Looking back, I realize I took a long time for me to fully understand this atonement. That is something of a humbling realization, which is perhaps what was intended.