By Chris Chambers
Pastor, Brush Creek Baptist Church, Brush Creek
In the episode recorded in Mark 7:24-30, Jesus encounters a Gentile woman who asks Jesus to cast out a demon from her daughter. Jesus seems to hesitate. His initial response to her seems to indicate the Jews were to take precedence over, and may even be better than, other peoples.
She asks for the “crumbs” from the Jews. Her faith in Jesus and His power, that just a crumb, would be sufficient, shows more faith than many of the Jews had. Jesus replies that her daughter is freed from the demon’s possession. While it may seem Gentiles, that is most of us, are second class citizens to God, we have actually been included in God’s plan from the beginning.
While Israel is God’s chosen people, they were chosen to be the conduit through which God would bless all nations. We see that in the call of Abraham in Genesis 12:3. “I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” God includes all people in that blessing.
Also in Mark 7, we see Jesus included people in His ministry who had disabilities. A deaf man approaches Jesus for healing. When Jesus included a touch to heal the man, He showed His healing included compassion. Touching the man would have left Jesus ceremonially unclean. But the need for compassion was greater than the need for ceremony.
When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He included every sin. (Mark 3:29 says one who blasphemes the Holy Spirit does not have forgiveness, but that is another lesson). But, there is not a sin you have committed that was not included in the forgiveness Jesus offers.
You have never been so bad or done something so terrible, you are excluded from forgiveness. The love, compassion and forgiveness of Jesus includes the worst sinner and those who [think they] “never sin.” He includes the Muslim and the atheist, the adulterer and the murderer, the addict and the alcoholic, the arrogant, the liar, the thief, the pedophile and the cheat, and anything “worse.” And aren’t we glad? James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the entire law, and yet stumbles at one point, is guilty of breaking it all.” That would include all of us. (see Romans 3:23)
How do we do at including everyone in our churches? When the family who does not look like the rest of the church comes in, are they included in your conversation and your classes? Or is there a clique where no one new is included? When that person with a certain reputation decides they need Christ, and comes to your church to find Him, do they feel they are included in the compassion and the love you show to the regulars?
Remember, Jesus includes us all in His death, burial and resurrection. We should make sure everyone knows and feels they are included in that offer of forgiveness.