Sayings of Jesus

'Except a man be born again'

'He that believeth..'
'I am the Bread of Life'
'I am the resurrection and the life'
'I am the true vine'
'Salvation is of the Jews'
'You are my friends if..'
 

`Salvation is of the Jews'

We read in John's gospel record how Jesus entered into a discussion with a Samaritan woman about the true worship of God. He said to her: `Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.' (John 4.22) When Jesus spoke these words to the woman at the well (See Picture) in Samaria, we know that he was not saying these things out of nationalistic pride. Jesus was trying to direct the woman's attention to the fact that God's salvation had been channelled through the nation of Israel. Not only were the Jews God's chosen people, but God's plan to offer salvation to the Gentiles required that the Gentiles appreciate the Jewish character of the Gospel (the good news of the kingdom of God). Jesus emphasised this aspect of God's truth and after Jesus' ascension into heaven, the apostles also preached the same message. The Apostle Paul, for instance, referred to the `hope of Israel' (Acts 28.20) for which he was bound in chains. It is this hope of Israel which we shall see is the essence of the good news of the kingdom of God which was preached by Jesus and the apostles in the first century.

THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO ABRAHAM

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians that the gospel was preached `unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.' (Galatians 3.8) God told Abraham:

`...Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.' (Genesis 12.1-3)

Abraham was a faithful man who left behind an idolatrous lifestyle in Ur of the Chaldees to obey the commandments of God. He was commanded to leave his country and kindred and to journey to a land which God promised He would afterwards give him for an inheritance. God elaborated on these promises as we read in several references throughout the book of Genesis. The promises included blessings for himself, his descendants and all families of the earth (Genesis 15.5), a promised land of defined parameters (Genesis 13.14-17; 15.18-21; 17.1-8), and a special seed who would make all these promises a reality, for God said to him:

`...in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.' (Genesis 22.17,18)

JESUS IS THE SEED OF ABRAHAM

Paul confirms that the `seed' of Abraham referred to in Genesis, is one person. He wrote to the Galatians:

`Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.' (Galatians 3.16)

The Lord Jesus Christ is therefore central to this entire concept that `salvation is of the Jews.' It is he that will bring the blessings upon Abraham and his descendants and upon all nations. Jesus, the seed of Abraham, is also the son of David, king of Israel. This is because Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, a descendant of David. God also made some very important promises to king David. They are recorded in the second book of Samuel chapter seven. The entire chapter is well worth reading, of which the following is a summary:

The time would come when the nation of Israel would dwell safely in their own land for ever and not be persecuted by their enemies.

  • God would make David an house. (descendants)

  • David's seed (descendant) would be established upon his throne for ever.

  • This seed of David would have God as his father.

  • David's throne would be established for ever before him (ie in his sight) and therefore David must be raised from the dead.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN THE PAST

One thing to bear in mind is that the kingdom of God had already existed upon the earth in Old Testament times. When God set men like Saul, David and Solomon upon the throne of Israel, they were actually ruling for God - it was the kingdom of God upon the earth. The territory of the Kingdom (the Promised Land) had been determined by God; the subjects of the Kingdom, the Jews, had been redeemed from Egypt by God. The laws of the Kingdom were God's laws. The rulers of this Kingdom were set up by God. David and Solomon recognized this fact. David himself said:

`And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.' (1 Chronicles 28.5)

God's intention was that the nation of Israel should act as a light to draw all nations to God's truth and the blessings associated with it. (Deuteronomy 4.5-9)

The nation of Israel failed miserably in this respect and because of the great wickedness of its kings, priests and people alike, God overturned the kingdom. The prophet Ezekiel addressed these words to the last king, Zedekiah:

`And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.' (Ezekiel 21.25-27)

THE HEIR TO DAVID'S THRONE

This overturning of the throne of David we note, was to last until `he come whose right it is'. The Lord Jesus Christ is the one whose right it is to be king over the kingdom of Israel. We read in Luke's gospel record how the angel Gabriel was sent to the virgin Mary. He told her what manner of child would be born to her as a result of the miraculous power of God working upon her. This child was to be called Jesus, a name which means the salvation of God. The angel also told Mary:

`He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: (remember the promises made to king David). and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.' (Luke 1.32,33)

Now whilst Jesus was born to be king of the Jews and was crucified with a sign over his head in three languages proclaiming that he was indeed the king of the Jews, we know that he never did reign on David's throne as king of Israel. After three days Jesus rose from the dead and after a further forty days he ascended into heaven where he sits on the right hand of God. He will not sit upon his own throne, (the throne of his father David) until his second coming in power and glory. At that time he will take the throne promised him and rule over the nation of Israel, and eventually, over all the earth.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN THE FUTURE

The apostles of Jesus spent those forty days after Jesus' resurrection from the dead, listening to him instructing them about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1.3) Having a good understanding of what Jesus meant when he spoke of the Kingdom, they asked him: `wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?' (Acts 1.6) Jesus replied that it was not for them to know the times and the seasons which God had put in His own power. But notice that Jesus did not correct them in their expectation that the Kingdom was to be restored to Israel. He did not correct them because their expectations were exactly right. All the prophets had spoken of that certainty of the restoration and the apostles had learned from Jesus to expect it. They only lacked an appreciation of the time which would elapse between Jesus' resurrection and the establishment of the Kingdom.

The angels who were present at Jesus' ascension into heaven told the apostles who were there that this same Jesus, who they saw go into heaven, would so return as they saw him go. (Acts 1.11) Jesus would return, as many other New Testament references affirm. That he would return to restore the ancient kingdom to Israel, is demonstrated in the words of the Apostle Peter to the Jews in Jerusalem:

`But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive UNTIL the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.' (Acts 3.18-21)

The restitution of all things concerns the `restoration' (Revised version translation) of the kingdom of Israel, upon the actual territory promised to Abraham, and, with the greater son of David (the Lord Jesus Christ) as its king. It is this restoration which is spoken of so often in both Old and New Testaments. God's dealings with mankind have almost exclusively been with the nation of Israel - the Jews. The involvement of Gentiles up until the New Testament time period was only incidental, though significant. Everything concerning God's plan with the earth, His offer of life to man and His requirements for those who desire eternal life have come through the nation of Israel. Jesus himself said, during his ministry, that he was not sent unto the Gentiles `but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' (Matthew 15.24)

Only later, when the gospel message had been rejected by the Jews themselves, did the apostles turn to the Gentiles and extend the good news of the Kingdom to them. Even then the apostles taught the Gentiles that they stood related to the stock of Israel and that they were being figuratively grafted into the good stock of Israel as wild olive branches. (Romans 11.17-21) It is this grafting of the Gentiles into the stock of Israel which lies at the heart of Jesus' words that `salvation is of the Jews.' In that same chapter in Paul's letter to the Romans he confirmed that God has not cast off his people Israel (Romans 11.2) but that the day would come when the Jews would be brought back into covenant relationship with God. Also, Jew and Gentile alike would partake of the blessings with Christ in the age to come. In the meantime the Gentiles are being invited to share the hope which previously had been almost exclusively offered to Jews. (Romans 11.23,24,26-32) Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman at the well are as relevant today, almost 2000 years later, as they were then.

It is only when we understand the Jewish nature of the gospel message preached by Jesus and the apostles, that we can appreciate what the good news of the kingdom of God is all about. When we understand that God's plan, to bless all families of the earth, has its roots in the ancient history of the people of Israel, and still revolves around them, then the basic message of the Bible becomes clear to us. The promises made to Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, become meaningful to us only when we understand these things. We do well to consider the words of the Apostle Paul:

`...if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.' (Galatians 3.29)

A true understanding of Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman is therefore essential if we are concerned about our own salvation.

 

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