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Summary: A brief, simple, look at the place of the Jewish people in God’s plans

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Jesus and the Jews. Matthew 8:1-13. WBC 1 Feb 2004 pm

Looking at ‘the Words of Jesus’. Tonight- Jesus’ words about His people, the Jews, and their place in God’s plan

1. SPECIAL PEOPLE

OT- seen as special and chosen people. Chosen and beloved on behalf of Abraham and because, of all the people in the world, they were intent on following ONE true God

Jesus’ ministry was to the Jews

- not exclusively. But purposefully

- MT 15:24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

- But always with knowledge of more

o That after Him it would go to ends of earth

o Gentiles flocking in was sign of end of his earthly ministry

 Cf Greeks coming to Philip “Sir we would like to see Jesus” Jn 12:20

- Here: who passage is about inclusiveness (not exclusivity):

ONE: The leper. Socially excluded. Unclean

- Jesus reached out and touched him

- No concern for ceremonial uncleanliness

TWO: Centurion. An inquisitive and God-fearing neighbour who came to Jesus

- doesn’t actually voice a direct request to Jesus

o but Jesus hears his implicit cry for help

o relies “I will come and heal him”

 lit “Am I to come and heal him?”

 = not off-putting. It’s probing the man’s faith. Am I?

• drawing him out

• ‘don’t you know a Jew isn’t SUPPOSED to go into the house of a gentile”

• (not that that bothers Jesus! He’s just touched a leper!)

These two cases speak of God’s inclusive plans for the Kingdom

What a response he gets from the centurion

- lit “marvelled”

- word only used ONCE elsewhere – and that’s Mt 6:6 where He MARVELS at the Jewish UNBELIEF

The centurion’s faith that is so marvellous = not faith in all the theological complexities (that the Jews were so good at)

- rather simple, utter, reliance on God’s word and power

He’s held up as an example

- nobody in Israel was like this!

And Jesus goes on to speak of His inclusive plans for the nations… people like this centurion

2. LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

In OT- God’s Kingdom… and it’s fullness/fulfillment is pictured as a banquet (a wedding banquet)

ISA 25:6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare

a feast of rich food for all peoples,

a banquet of aged wine--

the best of meats and the finest of wines.

ISA 25:7 On this mountain he will destroy

the shroud that enfolds all peoples,

the sheet that covers all nations;

ISA 25:8 he will swallow up death forever.

The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears

from all faces;

- but it’s a banquet for ALL nations

o the Rabbis and teachers had selectively forgotten this (as we ALL do!)

 THEIR writings narrowed it down

Now Jesus explains the true meaning of it

- it’s a level playing field

- all are invited to the banquet (not to become Jews)

o on the same criteria- FAITH

o the faith of Abraham and Isaac etc

 they were/are saved by believing God could save them- and was credited it them as righteousness

 and the sacrifice of the cross became retro-active

- so- saved by same criteria as us (just didn’t know as much as us

o Ab saw Jesus’ day but not as clearly as we do

 But don’t have to understand ALL to be saved!


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