Gentiles and Jesus

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“Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.” – Matthew 15:28

The number of personal contacts Jesus had with Gentiles as recorded in the Gospels is surprising.  He healed the Gadarene demoniac.  Among 10 lepers healed, one was a Samaritan, and Jesus remarked upon the fact that only the foreigner returned to thank Him.

A Samaritan woman was the sole audience for one of Jesus’ greatest sermons.

A Canaanite’s woman’s faith was rewarded when her daughter was healed.  Much has been made of Jesus’ remark at the beginning of the encounter —

“I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” – Matthew 15:24

This may have been a deliberate rebuke of His disciples, who wanted to send her away with her request unanswered, and who shared the racial prejudice which was common at the time.  The significant point is that Jesus did minister to this Gentile woman, and praised her faith in the presence of His disciples and the Jewish onlookers.

The centurion whose servant was healed was almost certain a Roman.  Conscious of his own authority as a military man, he humbly assured Jesus that it would not be necessary for Him to go to his house to heal the servant (and thus perhaps make Himself unclean by entering a Gentile home) —

” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed.”  –  Matthew 8:8

Jesus turned and announced to the crowd which was following Him —

“I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Matthew 8:10-12

The world was getting ready for Christ’s redemptive mission to be culminated by His atoning death —

And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” – John 12:32

Greeks as well as Jews; Gentiles and Hebrews alike – this is the clear implication of these profound words recorded by John.

JESUS AND THE GENTILES

 

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