Matthewby Mike Raiter
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile″ (Romans 1:16). This is Paul's important summary of God's salvation plan. Understanding God's timetable helps us to make sense of a passage of Scripture which troubles some people.
Jesus has already explicitly commanded His disciples to preach to Jews and not Gentiles (Matthew 10:5-6). This does not mean God has no desire to save Gentiles. He has already foreshadowed their salvation (Matthew 1; 2; 8:10-12) and very soon Jesus will send the apostles out with a clear command to go to all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). In the meantime, His ministry is mainly directed towards God's covenant people, Israel.
In this passage, Jesus gives us a foretaste of the day when all nations will enjoy the full blessings of salvation. He travels to the Gentile region of Tyre and Sidon and meets a woman whose daughter is demon-possessed. This is Gentile territory and He is found ministering to them as well, but first, He reminds the people of God's timetable.
While the expression ″dog″ is a harsh one (v. 26), the woman seems to discern that Jesus will grant her request. She is a remarkable woman. Her reply to Jesus (v. 27) is full of wit, wisdom, and faith; Jesus acknowledges this. Indeed, she is the second person in the gospel that Jesus has verbally commended for great faith-and both are Gentiles (cf. Matthew 8:10).
In what is almost a rerun of the feeding of the 5,000, Matthew records Jesus miraculously feeding a crowd of 4,000 men (plus women and children) who are predominantly Gentiles.
Why would Matthew record two such similar events? He has already established Jesus' divine credentials. Surely, he wants us to see that God intends Gentiles to receive the very same salvation blessings that Jesus pours out on Jews.
God's purpose has not changed. The gospel is for both Jews and Gentiles. Jews must believe in Christ as much as pagan Gentiles, thus we have a special obligation to bring to them the good news of Jesus, who fulfilled all their longings for a Saviour and Messiah.
It has been said that Jesus spoke these harsh words to the woman ″with a twinkle in His eye″. Do you think that might be right? Why was the woman not deterred by Jesus' words?
Given that we have a special obligation to bring the gospel to the Jews, how should this affect your church's mission programme?