N. T. Wright tells a story about some friends of his who bought an older home and decided to renovate it. They hired a contractor and discussed what color they wanted to walls painted, what kind of wallpaper they wanted hung, and what interior modifications they wanted made. In short, they discussed a plan. The couple went on vacation in order to let the contractor work. However, when they returned, they found that the contractor had not followed their plan. When they questioned him, the contractor simply said that he wanted to renovate the house his way because he knew better than the couple did about how the house should look. Although it may seem to be common sense, when we do not follow the plan, the outcome will not be as expected.
Israel, according to Paul in Romans 10, had not followed God’s plan for proclaiming good news to the nations. The good news had been proclaimed to Israel by the prophets, hence the heavy reliance on quotations from Isaiah in Romans 10. “[T]he message concerning the messiah” had been delivered to Israel. Therefore, they should have recognized Christ when He came and been ready to accept Him and His message. As a result, there should have been a massive influx of non-believers into God’s house. That was the plan! However, just like the contractor in the story, the plan was not fulfilled.
Fortunately, God is not limited by human stubbornness. He was able to keep His plan moving forward. Some did see Jesus as exactly who He said HE was—the messiah. Some embraced the good news and accepted the missionary call to proclaim the good news to the nations. As Wright writes, “the news is so good, so welcome, that those who receive it are like those who want to kiss the person delivering the mail for bringing them such a wonderful message.” Not everyone who heard believed. However, those who did would “Tell of His glory among the nations” (Psalm 96:3).
The same is true today. God has provided us with a plan. However, not everyone who hears will believe and accept Christ for who He is—the messiah, the savior of humanity. Yet that does not dismiss the validity and importance of the plan. We have embraced the good news and have accepted the missionary call to proclaim this good news to the nations. Therefore, let us heed the call to “Tell of His glory among the nations” (Psalm 96:3)!
N. T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: Romans, Part Two (Chapters 9-16), For Everyone Series (Louisville/London: Westminster/John Knox Press/SPCK, 2004), 34-35).
Luke Timothy Johnson, Reading Romans: A Literary and Theological Commentary, rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth and Helwys, 2001), 173.
Wright, Paul for Everyone: Romans, Part Two (Chapters 9-16), 36.