I was sitting in Sunday School the other day as we studied Jonah and learned some cool stuff. (Thanks Kurt) Check out the similarities between the story of Jonah and Acts 10 with Peter:
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I’m always fascinated by the way God uses certain places to speak particular things. There are certain places I can go that remind me of particular things God has done in my life. For example: If I go to Meridian State Park, I’m reminded of my conversion experience and the body of believers that God used to reveal Himself to me. When I go there, I remember my foundation. I remember where I came from and I can more clearly see who I’ve become.
It seems obvious that Peter would have known the story of Jonah. He had probably studied it as a child and quite possibly even memorized it (For more info, check this post). I wonder if he recognized the similarities of his situation with Jonah’s call? When he realized that God wanted him to share the Gospel with these Gentiles, did he realize that he was in the very same Joppa where Jonah had tried to run from God for a similar call? I wonder if he remembered that Jonah had to learn the hard way, and therefore made his choice to share the Gospel more readily because of it? These are the kinds of conversations that might be fun to have with Peter and Jonah someday in heaven.
PS – here’s another post I wrote about Jonah: Whoa Jonah!
In class last week Dr. Loken pointed out something that seems pretty basic, but it was just something I never really thought about before. Paul uses the phrase “grace and peace” alot. Here’s why – “Grace” was a standard greeting for the Gentiles. “Peace” or “Shalom” was the standard greeting for the Jews. Anyway, every time he used this phrase, he communicated that both Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ. It’s also a beautiful picture of the first century church which spread from the Jews to the Gentiles through Paul himself. Anyway, I just thought it was cool stuff!!!
Clearly the answer is that He came for both, but I still have some questions about Jesus which were raised by something I learned last night.
Matthew 10:5 – Jesus sends out the disciples to tell people that the Kingdom is near, but He tells them to only go to the Jews.
Matthew 28 – Jesus sends them out again, but this time to everyone. All nations, tribes, and tongues.
Check Matthew 15:21-28:
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Remember that the Jews hated the Canaanites, and this was not only a Canaanite, but also a woman. She called Him “Lord, Son of David” before the Jews had recognized Him as the Messiah. You’d think Jesus would commend her for her faith and all, but instead He basically says, “I’m here for the Jews, not for you.” Then she worships Him and recognizes Him as God and Jesus calls her a dog. Did you catch that? Jesus called her a dog. That’s not the way I always pictured Jesus, but that’s exactly what He did. Her answer is something like: “But what if the Jews don’t want what you have? Can’t I just get a little of what’s left over?” At this point Jesus commends her faith and heals her daughter. By the way, remember that when Jesus speaks to the disciples (Jews) he says, “You of little faith. . .” but when He talks to her he says, “You have great faith!”
Now, clearly there has been some sort of change that we see played out in these verses. God’s plan for the Jews has now been extended to the Gentiles. Or maybe it’s a whole different plan. But here’s the deal: I don’t understand some things: Did Jesus change His mind because of this woman? For that matter, if God is sovreign, can He change His mind? If not, why did Jesus think that He was just for the Jews at first and then later realize (like He didn’t know) it was much larger than that? Did He really believe He was just for the Jews or did He know it was gonna get bigger? Was He just saying that at first even though He knew that His crucifixion was gonna be for the Gentiles too?
One thought I have to help answer this question is that in Chapter 10 when He first sends them out, Jesus is talking about the prophesied Jewish Kingdom. Maybe that’s why He didn’t want them to go to the Gentiles – I mean – you know – the Gentiles wouldn’t care about a Jewish Kingdom anyway. But what about this woman? This still doesn’t explain this change we see take place in Him in this incident. Clearly it’s still a “Jewish Kingdom” message that He is speaking to her about, but it is inferred by His words and actions (healing the daughter) that she has somehow entered into this kingdom like a dog under the table.
Another thought is that God’s agenda for the Gentiles and what would soon become the church began here in these verses. This means that God has a Kingdom agenda that He is working for the Jews and simultaneously, He has this church thing going for the Gentiles. But is this the beginning of that?
Throughout the Scriptures, we see that salvation comes by faith. Clearly, this woman has faith when the Jews hadn’t even come to that yet. Is this why Jesus says later, “Go and make disciples of all nations”? I dunno – it’s all a bit confusing for me. Maybe some of you can help me figure this one out.
Hans? You’re a big seminary student – what insight can you bring?