As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offense: and whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed.
An offence is caused by some obstacle upon the road, something that trips up the feet or bars our progress, or some stone pillar that overthrows the unwary charioteer in his course. The apostle combines two passages from Isaiah to prove that the rejection of Christ by the Jews was long ago foretold; nothing, therefore, to be wondered at, much less a reason for abandoning Christianity. To John the Baptist, encompassed with doubts born of the shadows of a prison, the stirring assurance was sent, "Blessed is he who shall not be offended in me."
I. THE WORK OF CHRIST A DIVINE APPOINTMENT. "Behold, I lay in Zion" etc. There were hints and predictions of the gospel in nature, providence, and Jewish symbolism. And now that the purpose of grace has been clearly manifested, we can everywhere trace intimations corroborative of the significance of the Saviour's mission, though we might not without this key in our hands have discovered the opening of the locks. Much in the mystery of redemption transcends expectation. Who could have invented a narrative of such Divine condescension? And many things connected with the intercession of Christ recall the language of Leviticus, "I have given it you to make atonement for your souls." Christ is God's Gift to our fallen world. He came according to the flesh an Israelite; he came to Zion, and in the midst of his own people made his soul an offering for sin.
II. THIS WORK A STUMBLING-BLOCK TO SOME. The people in Zion could not understand how a Galilaean Prophet could become a Corner-stone of a nobler edifice than they had ever beheld. They had respect to the outward meanness of the Messiah, and could not comprehend his spiritual glory. They were unprepared for a system that secured righteousness, not by human merit and obedience to statutory and ceremonial regulations, but by faith in the Righteous One. A Messiah crucified was the reversal of every hope. And when the gospel was proclaimed to the Gentiles, multitudes could see in it naught to evoke their admiration or claim their intellectual homage. It humbles pride, makes severe demands upon our power of credence. The facts are extraordinary, and the doctrines based thereon run counter to many a deep-rooted, warmly cherished prejudice. And thus the preaching of Christ becomes "a savour of death."
III. A SURE FOUNDATION TO BELIEVERS. Three translations of the original word are found in the Authorized Version - "shall not make haste," "shall not be confounded" "shall not be ashamed." These terms all lay stress on the durableness of Christian hope. When the hail "sweeps away the refuges of lies," he that trusteth in the Lord shall find he has not believed in vain; his Ark survives the flood, his Tower withstands the assault of the foe. The consciousness of peace and satisfaction which the disciple of Christ enjoys must ultimately be accepted as the strongest weapon in the controversy, the plainest indication of the reconcilement of the natural and the supernatural. A foundation which bears unmoved the strain of a heavy superstructure cannot be treated as worthless. According to our position, then, as in the camp of Israel or of Egypt, will the Divine cloud minister light or darkness, succour or bewilderment. - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.