One of the most amazing things about the ministry of Jesus is that it is for everyone. Although Jesus was a Jew and his ministry was to the people of Israel, he made it clear that he was inviting anyone who would hear and respond into the eternal life of the Kingdom of God. For example, in today’s passage after he heals the slave of a Roman centurion–a man who was a living embodiment of Roman oppression and pagan idolatry–Jesus says this:
“I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 8:11
Wow! Jesus is saying that there is nothing about a person’s identity before he or she encounters Jesus that precludes that person from following after Jesus. If he is willing to follow Jesus, then even a Roman centurion can be his disciple.
But then Jesus says something troubling (as he always does):
“But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”Matthew 8:12
That part I don’t like as much. In that specific context, Jesus is saying that just because you were born a Jew in Israel does not mean that are exempt from responding to Jesus. But, applied more broadly it means this: even religious people like me have to actually say yes and follow–no one gets a free pass.
Peter was married! I love those little details the Gospel writers throw in from time to time.
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