Jealous Jews

“I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead!”
Romans 11:13-15 NLT

Paul himself was a Jew. And even though he had been sent as a missionary to the Gentiles, he never passed an opportunity to share God’s message with his fellow Jews so that he “might save some of them“. In that well-documented encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus made a profound and eternal statement, “You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews” (John 4:22). A prophetic word from God’s Son, who knew His mission, that, as a Jew, He would be the Source of salvation for all. And we know what happened at Calvary. A Jew was crucified at the instigation of His fellow Jews. Such a tragedy. 

We read in Acts 10 how Peter shared the Gospel with Cornelius and his household, but when he returned to Jerusalem we read that his fellow Jews were not happy at all. After he had given his report about what had happened, we read, “When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life“” (Acts 11:18). There was no doubt. God made salvation available to the “rest of the world“, and even appointed Paul as the “Apostle to the Gentiles“. Paul was sure about his mandate. We read in Ephesians 3:6-8, “And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News. Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ“. But Paul was very much aware of God’s heart, that His grace would extend across national and tribal boundaries.

Christians today are ethnically diverse. We don’t claim a common ancestor other than God Himself and His Son, Jesus. But in that diversity, we celebrate together with the praise and worship of our wonderful Heavenly Father. One day we will be joined by God’s chosen people,. No-one will be left out. We read in Revelation 19:1, “After this, I heard what sounded like a vast crowd in heaven shouting, “Praise the Lord! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God”. It will be an amazing experience being a part of that “vast crowd”.

Would the Jews have been jealous of the Gentile believers, especially when they could see how the Holy Spirit had been poured out on them as well? Possibly, but not those who understood God’s heart and His amazing grace. More of a problem was the people with hard hearts when Jesus was preaching and teaching His fellow Jews, those who failed to recognise their Messiah. The Pharisees were certainly jealous of the miracles, signs and wonders that Jesus performed in their midst. But that’s another story.

We pilgrims all stand alone in God’s presence. We are each unique, with our own spiritual DNA, and our own God-ordained mission. However, it is always a temptation to look jealously at other Christians, perhaps those with gifts that we wish we had. Thoughts like I wish I could preach, or lead worship, or pray or … whatever, like another Christian, can become a hurdle and cause unnecessary resentment. In John 21:21-22, Peter looked at another disciple, John, perhaps to take Jesus’ penetrating gaze off himself. But Jesus was having none of it. We read, “Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me“”. That’s all that matters. We must all focus on following Jesus. We’re not responsible for another’s relationship with God. There is no place for jealousy in God’s Kingdom.

Dear Heavenly Father. We know that the only thing that matters is You. We thank You for the love and grace You have individually for each one of Your children. Thank You. Amen.