Saturday, September 12, 2009

Jesus: First for the Jew, then for the Gentile

Many Muslims misrepresent the Bible. I am sure they do not do this as an act of dishonesty, but it is that the Qur’an forces them to engage in such dishonest behaviour.

But let us see what Jesus and the Bible actually teach. Firstly, we shall turn to Romans 1:16 – I believe this to be a succinct summary of Jesus’ earthly mission:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:16 (NET)

It is true. Jesus was first for the lost sheep of Israel, and then to the Gentiles. This was clearly demonstrated within his public ministry. Early on we are told:

"Jesus sent out these twelve, instructing them as follows: “Do not go to Gentile regions and do not enter any Samaritan town. Go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Matthew 10:5-6 (NET)

But this is not where Jesus stopped. Just as the scriptures predicted, Jesus’ ministry was not to be forever limited to the Jews. In Luke, alluding to prophesy in Isaiah, we see Jesus’ full mission:

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Luke 2:29-32 (ESV)

He was to be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32a) and a “a light for the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). Jesus was conscious of this and made it clear:

Then Jesus spoke out again, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

The light of the world? Hmm

At the end of the Jesus’ ministry he brought this in action. He commissioned his disciples to spread the gospel to all the nations of the world.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Matthew 28:19

and [Jesus] said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem
Luke 24:46-47 (ESV)

[Jesus said to them]… But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 (ESV)

As is evident, Jesus fulfilled what said about him and he said of his self. He instructed his disciples to spread the message to all nations and this is what they did. Taking the message of Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles.

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