Lectionary Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:35-10:15 (NRSV)
The part of this passage that used to disturb me was where Jesus told his disciples to “Go nowhere among the Gentiles” as he sent them out.
If the mission of Jesus was only to the Jews, then we, as Gentiles, seem to be second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God. For me, this lacks congruence with the overall message of “God so loved the world...” Of course, the latter is from John rather than Matthew. However, Matthew also has more universal appeal with the parable of the sower who scatters seeds indiscriminately.
Matthew’s is the only gospel that includes the curtain of the temple being torn when Jesus dies which indicates that which had separated us from God is now gone. The separation of the sheep and the goats in Matthew seems to point more toward morals than it does nationality when looking at righteousness.
And so, it is a little confusing to see the distinction Jesus makes here between Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles.
I believe that this has to do with training.
Out of these three groups, which one would have received the proper example of Abraham and Sarah? When Jesus mentions Sodom and Gomorrah, it becomes apparent that this era is being referenced. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah follows the story of the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis as two contrasting examples of how human beings should interact with strangers.
The lost sheep of the house of Israel should know the correct way to treat his disciples who are coming with nothing on them but the shirts on their backs. So this stipulation seems to be for the benefit of his followers rather than a hierarchy of the worthy.
If this is the case, what does it say about the expectations of Jesus for the church today regarding hospitality?
I’m looking forward to unpacking this passage in more detail during Sunday’s sermon which is entitled, “You Know What You Are Supposed to Do.”
Check out Sam’s Blog here: http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com/
Photo by Alan Levine via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.