thew 8:11-12 “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. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
It perhaps comes as a bit of a surprise to us that Jesus speaks so harshly against the Jewish people of his day. The occasion was the amazing expression of faith by a Gentile Roman Centurion that contrasted so acutely with the Jews’ LACK of faith. It all accords with John’s statement at the beginning of his Gospel: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God -” (John 1:11-12).
The very people who had NO EXCUSE for not recognising Jesus as their Promised Messiah were the ones who rejected him, and those who were OUTSIDE the understood boundaries of God’s Covenant of life were the ones who looked to him with absolute trusting faith! It is interesting, however, that this contrast was also predicted throughout the Jewish Scriptures. (When I had Matthew 8:11 on my on-line Bible and I pressed ‘Control-R’, there came up immediately 26 OT references to such predictions!).
It seems that God’s wrath is especially levelled at those who have had the truth revealed to them and yet have rejected it. Jesus himself made this point: “That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:47-49)
What does all this say to us who have had the privilege of hearing the Gospel faithfully taught and preached over many years? Those of us who are Gentiles can rejoice with very grateful hearts that Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection have allowed us to now be INCLUDED in God’s Covenant of Mercy, Love and Life (cf Romans 11), but there is also a strong warning to us about the danger of becoming complacent and presumptuous as the Jews had become, the sort of warning spelt out in passages like Hebrews 6:4-6: “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”, and 2 Peter 2:21: “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”
– Bruce Christian