We all know that when we are looking for a certain theme, we find it everywhere. The past two days, the themes of law vs. grace and Jews vs. Gentiles have been in my heart. And for sure — I found these everywhere in our reading. Let’s look briefly at the latter.
The issue of Gentiles coming to faith surfaced not only in the time of Jesus, but also plagued the early church. Most of the differences that arose among the disciples were due to this debate. Definitely Israel was the original ‘olive tree.’ Gentiles were not chosen from the beginning. We were “not a people!” We had “not received mercy!” (I Pet 2:4) But we were grafted in.
Jesus was a Jew. He even said in Matthew 15:24, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (but when the Canaanite woman pressured him, he ‘agreed’ to heal her daughter, and did).
Paul was also a Jew. A Pharisee, for that matter. He writes over and over again about the ‘mystery’ of the gospel that had been revealed to him. That mystery is stated as “Christ in you” (Col 1:27); maybe that is more like saying, “Christ has come to you, of all people!” Paul clarified in Ephesians 3:6 that the mystery was the fact that, through the gospel, the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members of one body, and sharers together in the promise” (covenant). Formerly, Gentiles were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, and foreigners to the covenant of the promise, without hope and without God” (Eph 2:11). That is a pretty bad situation to be in!
We (unless you are of Jewish descent) were simply not part of the deal.
But WHY did the children of Israel — for the most part — fail to recognize their Savior? After all, Jesus was indeed “the promise that the 12 tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night” (Acts 26:7). They had all the history of walking with God. They were recipients of God’s covenant of love. They knew the prophecies and were waiting for their Messiah. But they rejected, even crucified. their Lord. Hmm.
Leaving that for you to ponder, I just want to say that we ended our reading powerfully, crying out with John the revelator, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Thank you for taking this journey through the Word with us!