Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.”
So far in this series, God’s Heart for the Nations, we’ve seen thatmankind is not at the centre of God’s plan and the Bible is not about us. And we have also seen that the Bible is not simply a collection of 66 books. It is actually one book telling one story with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. We learned how God’s blessing and His purpose for that blessing connect and we saw how God reaches the nations by blessing His people. Last time we learned how God reveals His heart for the nations in the Psalms and Prophets.
In this post, we will learn that one of the biggest challenges Jesus faced in His earthly ministry was to break the disciples of their cultural biases. Even though their Scriptures clearly communicated God’s heart for the nations and that the Messiah was also coming to be a light to the nations, most Jews were looking for a national hero who would establish His reign among the nations. The disciples were just the first layer in Jesus’ strategy of taking the gospel to all nations.
But His disciples were very nationalistic in their perspective of who the Messiah was and what He would come to do. Through His teaching, His ministry to Gentiles, His use of non-Jews as spiritual object lessons, and His mandates, Jesus was intentionally and systematically reshaping their worldview.
We will look at some scriptures with which you may be familiar. But I would challenge you to take your time to discover some new insights.
From the following prophetic statements about the Messiah, what will He come to do and for whom will He come?
Isaiah 42:5-7 - Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
Messiah will come to be a covenant, a light for the nations, to open blind eyes, to release prisoners from the darkness in which they sit. And it is clear that He came for the nations.
Isaiah 49:6 - “It is too light a thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations,
that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
In this verse, the Messiah will be as a light to the nations so that salvation may reach the end of the earth. And it is clear that He’s come not just for the sons of Jacob, the preserved of Israel.
Matthew 4:12-16 - Now when He heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth He went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
In these verses, which were quoted from Isaiah, the point is made that Jesus chose to make His home base in Capernaum, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, among the Gentiles. This was a strategic move in that, Jews would travel from Jerusalem to see one rumoured to be the Messiah, but Gentiles would not travel to Jerusalem for any reason. And Gentiles were a part of Jesus’ mandate.
So it’s pretty clear that Jesus did not come just for the Jews. He came for the nations.
Fulfilling the Scriptures
Luke 4:14-30 - Please read this portion of Scripture to understand what is going on. Jesus had returned to Nazareth, where He was raised. As was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. The scroll of Isaiah was handed to Him and He found the portion He then read (Isaiah 61:1-2). When He had read it and handed the scroll back to the attendant He told those in attendance that this Scripture was being fulfilled in their hearing.
They were duly impressed with His gracious words and marvelled that this was Joseph’s son.
Then Jesus spoke again, telling them that they would doubtless ask Him to perform the sorts of signs and miracles that they heard He did in Capernaum and that a prophet is without honour in His home town. Jesus then made clear the plan of God by referencing two incidents from their Scriptures.
The first was from the time of Elijah. The heavens were shut up three and a half years and a great famine came over the land. And while there were many widows among the Jews in those days, God sent Elijah to a Gentile widow in Zarephath, in the land of Sidon.
The second was from the time of Elisha. Jesus told them that, although there were many lepers among the Jews at the time, none of them was cleansed, but Naaman the Syrian was.
The point is that Jesus made it very clear that, while the Jews would have interpreted the passage quoted by Jesus from Isaiah as referring to the Jews, its application was much broader and included Gentiles (the nations) as well. And this inclusion of the nations was a fulfilment of Scripture.
How did those in the Synagogue respond to this lesson?
Saviour of the World
There is numerous places in Scripture where God makes clear His global perspective, His plan to include the nations.
John 3:16-17 - “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
Here, Jesus says that whoever believes in Him, Jew or Gentile, would be saved and that His purpose was not to condemn anyone but to provide salvation through Himself. A similar reference is made in John 6:33.
John 8:12 - Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Again, Jesus makes it clear here that the light of the world is for the world, not just the Jews. Whoever follows Him will have the light of life.
John 12:30-32 - Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not Mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to Myself.”
Once again Jesus says that when He is lifted up He will draw all kinds of people to Himself without distinction, all nations.
1 John 4:14 - And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world.
John could not have made it any clearer. The Father sent Jesus to be the Saviour of the world. This was not just Jesus’ purpose, but it was the purpose of the Father.
Disciples of the Saviour
If Jesus is the Saviour of the world this means that you are a disciple of the Saviour of the world.
How do you think this truth should impact your daily walk with Christ?
How should this truth impact the way that you pray?
How should this truth change the way you view people who look different from you?
John 4:39-42 - Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.”