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“The Great Reach of the Mercy of God” (Romans 11:11-32)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

In last week’s passage, we learned about the tragedy of rejection. We learned that some of God’s chosen people, the Israelites had rejected God and His ways; they had rejected Jesus the Messiah.

Well, in today’s passage, Paul is going to circle back to that reality and then ask what the state is of the Israelites.

Also, while discussing this topic, Paul addresses the Gentiles and how they should react towards this newfound blessing that they have of being able to receive the mercy of God through Jesus.

Today’s sermon is entitled, “The Great Reach of the Mercy of God.”

Before we dive into this passage, let’s pray together and ask God to speak to us.


Sometimes when you learn a new topic, you need some clarifications in order to really understand it. Well, Paul wants us to understand more about this reality of Israel’s rejection and the offer of salvation to the Gentiles.

So, as we look at this passage, we’ll see three clarifications regarding the relationship of God and the mercy that He shows to the Jewish people as well as the non-Jewish people.

First, let’s see that . . .

I. Israel is not extinguished (11-16)

Remember how Israel came to be. It all started with God choosing Abraham from the land of Ur and then He grew them from Abraham, through Isaac, through Jacob and the twelve tribes of Israel.

Israel was the apple of God’s eye. In God, they were victorious.

God’s people thrived under King David and King Solomon. They were respected, they were feared, they were thriving!

Then, Israel continued to reject God and His ways. They suffered at the hands of the Assyrians, they suffered at the hands of the Babylonians, they suffered at the hands of the Persians, they suffered at the hands of the Romans, and they rejected Jesus the Messiah.

Was it over for Israel? Was the flame they once possessed now extinguished? No!

Listen to what Paul says. Look at

Romans 11:11-16

11 I ask, then, have they stumbled so as to fall? Absolutely not! On the contrary, by their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their transgression brings riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness bring!

13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Insofar as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if I might somehow make my own people, jealous and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brings reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 Now if the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch. And if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Do you remember Paul talking about the Jewish people stumbling?

In Romans 11:8-10, he speaks about them being stupid, blind, deaf, trapped, and burdened.

InRomans 9:33, he speaks of Jesus being a stumbling block for the unbelieving Jews.

Now, Paul asks the question of whether or not they have stumbled so badly that they have fallen and they can’t get up.

In other words, is all hope lost for the Jews? Is their flame extinguished?

Notice Paul’s characteristic reply in verse 11. Paul says, “Absolutely not!”

The Jews have not fallen so far that they cannot be recovered. Their flame has not been extinguished. They have not fallen past the reach of God’s great mercy.

Paul points out how God worked good through the rejection of the gospel by the Jewish people.

Since the Jews rejected Jesus, God offered the gospel to the Gentile world.

Then, Paul points out that if God can work through Israel’s failure, imagine how He can work through their repentance.

He says in verse 12, “ . . . how much more will their fullness bring!”

Paul even explains that by God taking the gospel to the Gentile world, some of the Jewish people will grow jealous of God’s love and blessings being shown to others Then, they will come back to God and His ways. Then, they will seek the righteousness of God through Jesus the Messiah.

Sometimes I will offer a bight of something to my youngest son, Samuel and he will reject it (he’s kind of picky at times). However, if I offer it to one of my other sons, he may perk up and pay attention. All of a sudden, he may want a taste of that which he rejected.

In the same way, Paul is explaining that God’s chosen people, the Israelites, may see how God is expanding His kingdom and blessing the Gentile world with His favor and they may want a piece of the action. They may want to come back to that which they rejected.

If Israel does come back to God through Jesus (and they will) what a beautiful blessing that will be. The one who was first chosen by God will experience His blessings once again.

Paul says in verse 16, “Now if the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch. And if the root is holy, so are the branches.”

Israel, the first of the produce will be holy, which can only be a blessing for the whole batch that God is cooking up.

If Israel, the root of the tree of the people of God, is holy, it will only be a blessing to the entire tree that is God’s chosen people.

So, God is not done with Israel. Israel is not extinguished.

Second, the . . .

II. Gentiles are not exceptional (17-27)

Have you ever heard the term, “You’re getting too big for your britches?” Surely, you have. Well, Paul is basically warning the Gentiles here not to get too big for their britches.

Remember, Paul just said in last week’s passage that many of us Gentiles believed the gospel even though we were not very smart; even though we lacked understanding.

Now, Paul is warning the Gentile Christians not to think they are somehow exceptional.

Listen to what Paul says in Romans 11:17-27:

17 Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, 18 do not boast that you are better than those branches. But if you do boast—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 True enough; they were broken off because of unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but beware, 21 because if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you—if you remain in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in, because God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from your native wild olive tree and against nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these—the natural branches—be grafted into their own olive tree?

25 I don’t want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you will not be conceited: A partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

The Deliverer will come from Zion;

he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.

27 And this will be my covenant with them,

when I take away their sins.

Paul explains his point in this passage using the analogy of an olive tree.

Paul explains that the root, or the foundation, of the tree is based upon God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their faith in that promise.

So, the natural branches that came from that root were the people of Israel. Yet, some of the people who belonged to the people of Israel did not really believe in the promises of God (as we learned in Romans 9). Paul says these people (or branches) were broken off from the tree. That is to say, these people were Israelites but they were not really God’s children because they rejected God and His ways.

Since branches were broken off, now God brought in other branches from “wild” olive trees and grafted those wild Gentiles into the tree of God’s people.

By the way, how do you like the fact that Paul has now referred to us Gentiles as “without understanding” and as “wild?”

However, we are now part of the tree of the people of God. Even though we were without understanding, even though we were spiritually wild, we Gentiles who believe receive all of the same rewards and benefits that God’s chosen people, the Jews, received as well. We have been grafted into the tree!

However, here’s where we need to be careful not to think that we are too big for our britches: we were not grafted into the tree because we were exceptional. There’s nothing special about us. After all, we are wild and without understanding.

We were not grafted in because we were special, we were grafted in because God is special.

We are not exceptional, God is exceptional.

We are not better than the Jews, but God had a better plan that included more than just the Jewish people. God wanted to show His mercy and kindness to the entire globe.

In the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are able to see the great reach of the mercy of God.

Paul also points out that the moment we think that we are accepted by God because we are special, that’s when we’re in trouble. That’s precisely the problem the Jews of Paul’s day ran into.

When we think that we’re accepted by God because of how great we are, that’s when we’re in danger of missing out on really knowing God and really experiencing His grace and mercy.

Paul said in verse 19, “ . . . if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.” Here’s what Paul might say if he was from Bartow, “Don’t get too big for your britches.”

Paul then tells us in verse 25 that there is a mystery that is unfolding before us.

God is doing something special with the Jewish people that will unfold in time.

In the meantime, He is continuing to draw Gentile people to be a part of His family and to graft them into the tree of the people of God.

Church, the Gentiles are not exceptional and the Jews are not exceptional, God is exceptional.

Finally, . . .

III. God is not exhausted (28-32)

Have you ever been so exhausted that you just give up on something? Perhaps you’re trying to get your kids to enjoy a new board game but they just won’t obey, so you say “I’m done!” Maybe you can’t take it anymore at your job so you throw in the towel. I’ve heard of new pastors who are so passionate about leading a church to become healthy but they finally get exhausted from the endless meetings, the constant bickering, and lack of spiritual response that they just move on to the next church.

Sometimes we just get exhausted and we can’t take it anymore.

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t get exhausted?

Psalm 121:4 says, “Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep.”

God does not get exhausted and His grace, mercy, and love have not been exhausted. He doesn’t run out of love. He doesn’t run out of grace. He doesn’t run out of mercy. There’s still plenty to go around.

Listen to what Paul says in verses 28-32:

28 Regarding the gospel, they are enemies for your advantage, but regarding election, they are loved because of the patriarchs, 29 since God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable. 30 As you once disobeyed God but now have received mercy through their disobedience, 31 so they too have now disobeyed, resulting in mercy to you, so that they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may have mercy on all.

As always, Paul is very wordy in the way he says things here, but here’s what he’s getting at:

Because the Jews rejected the gospel, the door was open for us to hear about the mercy of God found in Jesus. We Gentiles benefited from the fact that some of the Jews were enemies of God.

However, God has not grown tired of the Jews forever. He is not exhausted towards them in the sense that He has not given up on them forever.

Because of God’s promise and covenant with the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), God will keep His promise to Israel.

Many will turn back to God and many will be saved by the blood of Jesus, and God will carry out His plans through His people, as He promised.

God is not exhausted.

Bottom Line: God’s grace will thrive in all the world: by His mercy and for His glory!

God’s grace is unending. Our sins, they are many; His mercy is more! Come and see the great reach of the mercy of God!

God has done something great among the Jewish people, He is doing something great among the Gentile people, and He will do something great again among the Jews and the Gentiles, by His mercy and for His glory.

Challenge yourself to live out this passage in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge #1 – Remember who you were.

You and I were nothing special before we knew Jesus.

That was the problem that the Jews got into. They thought they had some special pedigree.

Listen, if the Jews weren’t saved because of their Jewish ancestry, you certainly aren’t saved by your lack of Jewish ancestry.

This is who we were: dead in our sins and trespasses, enemies of God, lost and hopeless.

Take some time this week and reflect upon who you were.

Weekly Challenge #2 – Remember whose you are.

To whom do you belong?

Have you been grafted into the tree of the people of God?

Take some time this week to reflect on and to remember whose you are.

Weekly Challenge #3 – Remember the promises of God.

If you are in Jesus, you are kept secure and firm in the family of God. Stand strong in Jesus. Remember that promise.

Also, remember that God is still about the business of saving people, both Jews and Gentiles. Keep spreading the Gospel, keep expecting life change, keep praying for people, keep trusting in the promises of God.

God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and He will keep that promise.

So also, God has made promises to all of His children. Take some time to reflect upon and remember those promises.

God is not through, He is not exhausted.

Take some time this week and remember and consciously trust in the promises of God.

(Gospel presentation)

Do you know that our sins imprison us? That is the punishment for our sin, imprisonment in judgment.

Know this, church: God is the one who judges us when we do not repent; He is the one who imprisons us for our sin.

However, know this also: God is also the one who will show us mercy and set us free.

Listen again to the words of Romans 11:32For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may have mercy on all.

Have you experienced the mercy of God?

(closing prayer)


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