After He gives the Sermon on the Mount and explains what His Kingdom will be like, Jesus returns to Galilee and begins to build it.
Once again, Matthew’s account subverts the expectations of his time. Anyone living during the day would have expected Jesus to begin His movement by going to the seat of power: Jerusalem. There He could rub elbows with the well-to-do and win over some wealthy donors and get the political factions on His side. Perhaps He could have secured an endorsement from the Chief Priest; that would certainly carry some weight. With their help, He could conquer Jerusalem and have a strong, defensible capital for His kingdom.
Suffice to say, Jesus doesn’t do any of that.
Instead, His first stop on His campaign to bring in the Kingdom of Heaven is… a bunch of lepers Suffice to say that Jesus’ campaign manager would not have had “Secure the valuable leper vote” on his to-do list. Next, we see Jesus heal the servant of a Roman Centurion - an officer in the occupying army that Jesus’ followers assumed He would vanquish in glorious battle. After calming a storm and healing Peter’s mother-in-law (which might have been necessary to keep his disciples from walking away). Jesus follows this up by crossing Galilee to territory owned by the Greeks (the other ancestral enemy of the Jews) and healing two men who were possessed by demons.
In all of this, Jesus seemingly makes no attempt to bring God’s Kingdom to be very people who thought of themselves as God’s People. In fact, He turns away the only two Jewish followers who approach Him with cryptic statements about foxes and holes.
Jesus’ disciples must have been utterly bewildered. What was Jesus doing? Didn’t He know how His enemies would spin this?
But Jesus had a mission - indeed, a covenant, to fulfill. As we mentioned back in chapter 1, Jesus came to fulfill the promises that God had made throughout the Old Testament. One of those promises was the covenant that God made with Abraham - namely that Abraham’s descendants would be a “blessing to all nations.”
Jesus didn’t come to champion one group of people over another. He did not have an “Israel First” agenda. His Kingdom would not be defined by “blood and soil” or “borders, language and culture.” He came to rescue God’s children - all God’s children - from the tyranny of sin and death. He didn’t prioritize those who believed they deserved His help, but those who genuinely needed it.
If we intend to follow Him - if we truly are Christians - then we pledge to fulfill the same mission, to be a blessing to all nations. Our primary allegiance is not to a tribe, ethnic group, faction, party or even to a country. We have a King, and He has commanded us to go and serve the weak, the sick, the foreigner, the homeless and the lost. To love them as deeply and truly as we love our own families, country or selves.
After all, to Christ, they are all our brothers and sisters.
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