Great Video about the Great Commission!! I especially love the advise – seems counter-intuitive until you hear them out.
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?
OK – I’ll confess. I really like Rob Bell. There are all kinds of opinions about him and I certainly don’t agree with everything the guy says, but something about the way he thinks. Something about his ideas. Maybe it’s his speaking style or humor, I dunno, but something really stirs things in my spirit when I listen to his sermons or watch the Nooma videos.
Anyway, over the last few days I’ve been listening to his latest sermon called “We Already Are” about Matthew 28 which he preached April 15, 2007 at his church (Mars Hill) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here’s a link to the sermon: We already are Matthew28.mp3
Anyway, he touched on so many things this week that really struck me. First of all, Jesus said that we should “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” In studying this verse, you’ll discover that “Go” might actually be better translated “as you go.” The greek has a continuing-into-the-future tense that English doesn’t have. Anyway, he also talks about the word “baptize” which is literally translated “immerse” or “make fully wet.” (We, Methodists got this one wrong.) He also speaks of the idea that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (whom we were created in the image of) are literally a small group or community. Since we are made in His image (Gen 1:26), we long for connections and community too. Anyway, in Matthew 28, when Jesus says to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it might also be said that we are to “immerse people into our community.” I think this is why so many “new converts” don’t stay Christian very long. They’re never fully engaged into our communities. This is not a new idea, but it’s a new idea to me that Jesus actually taught it in these verses.
It’s also interesting to note that in Jewish culture, the Pharisees had been telling people to stay away from the Gentiles – to not associate with them – even to avoid them. But in this verse, Jesus assumes, that “as we go” we will come in contact with the “ethnos” (world) and when we do, we should try to “immerse” them into our community. He doesn’t say “convert” them or “make them believe.” He simple wants us to invite others into our community – to immerse them with ourselves, and to teach them about what Jesus said. We’ll end up sharing the gospel with our lives that way. Rob relates a story of a group who was inviting others into their community and how a girl asked, “Well, when should we tell them about Jesus.” Rob’s answer? “You already are.” When we live our lives as Christians and “immerse” others into our lives, we are already telling the story of Jesus.
Anyway, these are just some great ideas and teachings that I learned from Rob Bell this week.
You can download his sermons each week for free at: http://www.marshill.org/teaching/index.php