The mission of Jesus is to make disciples of all nations

Published 8:17 am Friday, June 21, 2019

The question was asked, “If Jesus’s message was for the whole of mankind, then why did He forbid His disciples to preach to the Gentiles”?
This is a great question knowing that the message of Salvation was to all men. So why would He tell his disciples not to go to the Gentiles and the Samaritans? We read in Matthew 10:5-6, “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” This command is often referred to as the limited commission. The answer to the supposed problem becomes evident as we study further in the scriptures.
While He told His disciples not to go to the gentile nations and the Samaritans at one point, in the great commission, Jesus told His disciples to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19). This was because He had “other sheep … which are not of this fold” (John 10:16), that is they were not Jews. As we consider the Old Testament there are prophecies that clearly teach Jesus would be “a light to the Gentiles” (Isa. 49:6). According to (Isaiah 60:3), Gentiles would “come to thy light”. There is no doubt that Jesus was that light (John 8:12). But it remains that Jesus instructed His disciples, “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans” (Matt. 10:5; 15:24).
As we further consider the answer is quite simple. To the uneducated or to those who desire to injure the scriptures this is an apparent contradiction. It is true that the first part of Jesus’ mission was to the Jews. This is evident in (John 1:11), where we find “He came to His own and His own received Him not.” Eventually the Jews in collision with the Romans would crucify the Christ. Following the crucifixion of Christ, His mission was expanded to all men. This is seen in the great commission. Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). While many Jews accepted Jesus there were many who rejected His message and desired to destroy Christianity. Therefore, after His crucifixion and resurrection the mission of the disciples was to go to all nations. In their obedience to this command the fulfillment of prophecies about the Gentiles would be satisfied. It is for this reason that Paul would write to the Church at Rome and say, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). Because the Jews rejected Christ and the salvation afforded through Jesus, the Jews were cut off and the Gentiles were taught the gospel. However, Jews who would accept Jesus could be grafted back into the fold (Romans 11:19-26). It is evident that even though Jesus’ mission was officially and initially to the Jews, He did not neglect the Gentiles. He healed the Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter (Mark 7:24–30). He went out of His way to minister to the woman of Samaria (John 4). Finally, Jesus told His disciples how He would work through them among the Gentiles (John 10:16), and His Great Commission was to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:18–20). Paul taught that all men would be unified through Christ when he said, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one (Jew/Gentile), and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” (Eph 2:13-14). So, we see that the message of Christ came first to the Jew and when Jesus had fully taken on the role of Saviour the plan of salvation went to the Gentile as it was planned by God and fulfilled by Jesus and His disciples.
(Questions and Answers is provided by Tony Hoss, minister of Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton)

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