Is Jesus for the Jews only?
Many critics of Jesus’ path like to point to two passages to indicate that Jesus was only sent for the Jews. This is rather like saying that Muhammad (pbuh) was sent only for the Arabs, because he never went outside of Arabia and the Qur’ān says in one place, “We have revealed to you an Arabic Qur’ān , that you may warn Mecca and those who dwell around it.” To make such unbalanced claims you have to hide or ignore other verses. Below we will examine these two passages and examine the overall evidence.
Matthew 10:5 – “Just to the Jews?”
In Matthew 10 Jesus is sending his disciples out for a temporary excursion, this time only to the Jews. We know these instructions were temporary, for Luke 9 records the conclusion to this assignment, and later Jesus specifically amended some of those earlier instructions (Luke 22:35-36).
Matthew 15:21-28 – “Just for the Jews?”
In Matthew 15:21-28 (also Mark 7:23-30) Jesus is explaining to a Canaanite woman how his primary earthly ministry was to the people of Israel. This passage and Jesus’ instructions to his disciples in Matthew 10 are contorted by critics to suggest that he was only sent for Jews of Israel. On the contrary, there are more than ten times the number of clear passages in the Tawrat, Zabur and gospels, let alone the letters of Paul, that undeniably state Jesus’ message was intended for the whole world. It is true that his earthly ministry was directed to the Israelites, for since Abraham Israel had been God’s instrument for his message. Thus Jesus brought his message first to Israel.
Jesus for All Nations
However Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection inaugurated the new covenant era prophesied beforehand, when the door would be opened up to all nations directly. Even before his crucifixion Jesus made this abundantly clear, saying,
“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12),
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
Jesus said that his coming self-sacrifice would be:
“for the life of the world” (John 6:51)
and Matthew says of Jesus,
“In his name the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12:21)
When Gabriel announced Jesus’ birth, he said:
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10)
After his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus flatly stated that his message was for the whole world, telling his disciples to:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19,20)
We find the same clear final command restated in Luke 24:46-48 and Acts 1:8. Much weight is given to Muhammad (pbuh)’s parting words to the disciples—Jesus’ parting words similarly have a special importance.
Prophecies of a Messiah for All
Furthermore, the prophecies about Jesus made it clear that the coming Messiah was for all nations. Isaiah says of the Messiah that:
“in that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him,” (Isaiah 11:10)
“In his law the islands will put their hope.” (Isaiah 42:4)
Zechariah prophecies of the Messiah:
“Behold, your King is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey… and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Zechariah 9:9-11)
It is simply a historical fact that Jesus’ first twelve disciples traveled all across Asia, Europe and Africa to spread his message among the nations. If Jesus’ message was only for the Jews, why would they have wasted their lives in vain? Unless Jesus’ entire life was one big fiasco, his disciples would have never spent the rest of their lives spreading his message among the nations.
It is convenient to believe that every prophet was assigned to a separate nation, but it is simply not true. All of the major prophets—Adam, Noah, Abraham, `Īsāac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, Jonah, John the Baptist and Jesus were all in one single generational community, which after Jacob comprised the people of Israel, or ‘Bani-Israel’. God chose them as a “model community” to show the world his path, placing them at the exact intersection of the three continents so the nations could be drawn to them. Jesus brought the new covenant, opening the doors directly for the nations to come to God through his salvation.