A discussion came up in Sunday School about why Jesus tells the Syrophoenician woman and the disciples that He is come only to the lost sheep of Israel but then He went ahead and granted the Syrophoenician’s daughter. Someone said, “Didn’t He just contradict what He just said? So I went home and researched this topic, and I hope what I found can help someone!
Purpose statements Jesus gave of why he was here on earth:
- Luke 19:10– For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
- Matthew 20:28 – Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
- John 12:47-50 – Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
- Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. (Die on the cross so that all could be saved) John 4:34
- For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. John 6:38
Why does it say salvation went to the Jews first and then to the Greek (Gentiles)?
We see Paul say in Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Why does Jesus say to the disciples, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15: 24).”
Why did He say this statement to the Samaritan woman?
You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” John 4:22
Jesus came to the Jews and salvation is from the Jews. What do those statements mean?
Jesus came to the Jews first with the salvation message as the promised Messiah come in flesh. They refused the message and the messenger (as a whole/as a nation). Those who did believe (such as His disciples and His apostles) took the message to the whole known world after Jesus ascended up into heaven; so therefore, salvation came from the Jews. (John 4:22 above) Also salvation came from the Jews because God had a covenant with Abraham. Jesus was the fulfillment of that covenant, He was a Jew and therefore salvation came from the Jews .
Jesus is the Messiah that the Jews had been anticipating for centuries (see Luke 2:25; 3:15). As such, He was born into a Jewish family and was reared according to Jewish law in a Jewish town (see Luke 2:27; Galatians 4:4). Jesus selected Jewish disciples, spoke in Jewish synagogues and the Jewish temple, and traveled mostly in Jewish areas. His mission, in fulfillment of the Jewish prophets, was to the Jewish people.
Jesus’ focus was on reforming Israel, not bringing his kingdom message to the rest of the world. His focus on Israel can be seen in his prophecies and pronouncements of judgment on the nation. Through symbolic, prophetic actions like cursing the fig tree (Mark 11:12-14, 20-25; Matt 21:18-22) and cleansing the temple (Mark 11:15-19; Matt 21:12-17; Luke 19:45-48, John 2:13-16), as well as strong prophetic denunciations (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21, 13:6-9), Jesus made his particular focus on Israel clear.
None of this means that Jesus’ ministry was limited exclusively to the Jews. Anyone who had faith received salvation (even Gentiles – we see this with the Syophoenician woman and the centurion, and the Samaritan woman). As the Syrophoenician woman kept up her appeals, Jesus finally responded, but His words seemed to hold little hope: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (verse 24). Here he was just defining His focus to His disciples. He was training them. They needed to know His ultimate purpose. However, the woman did not give up, and Jesus eventually granted her request, based on her “great faith” (verse 28). Here they can see that He did love the Gentiles and that His salvation was for everyone – which the disciples would need to know as it was their purpose/mission to take the salvation message to everyone. (All the Great Commission verses in Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20 and more) He was here for 3 years; His mission was to present Himself as the Messiah and to die on the cross. The disciples’ mission was to take that news to everyone.
We see His love for Gentiles in the way He healed a Roman centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1–10), traveled through the Gentile region of the Gerasenes (Mark 5:1), and ministered in a Samaritan city (John 4). Jesus came to save everybody (1 John 2:2).
I found some of this info at https://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-Jews-only.html
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Next Thursday, I will still be in South Africa visiting my sister. I got this post up before I left, but I will probably not have a post next week as I will not have much access to the internet. Maybe I will be able to do one there. If I do, I will send you an email. Thanks!
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