Series GOD’S MISSION, MY MISSION with Pastor Mark Finley |
Lesson 11: Mission to the Unreached – Part 2 |
This lesson unfolds a fascinating panorama of Jesus’ missionary efforts in Gentile areas, particularly in the cities of Tyre and Sidon. By analyzing biblical texts such as Matthew 15:22–28 and Mark 7:24–30, we delve into profound lessons derived from encounters with people of different backgrounds. This lesson not only examines historical challenges of spreading the Gospel amidst nationalism and prejudice but also draws valuable lessons for today when it comes to spreading a vibrant faith in cities and among diverse population groups. Let’s immerse ourselves in biblical narratives to gain deep insights into Jesus’ missionary strategy and the timeless relevance of His teachings for our own mission in urban settings.
Memory Text: 1: Matthew 15:28 – “Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour” |
11.1 Mission to Regions Beyond
This section emphasizes the strategic significance of Jesus’ mission in Gentile areas, particularly in the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Jesus deliberately chose these border areas to prepare His disciples for their calling to reach all population groups. References to biblical texts like Judges 3:1–6 and 1 Kings 5:1–12 illustrate the historical role of these cities in testing the faith of the Israelites. Despite the negative influences of their pagan past, it is stressed that facing the challenges of urban mission is essential, serving as a model for comprehensive mission in various cultures and nationalities.
11.2 Seeking the Multitudes
The focus is on Jesus, in His grace, calling for engagement in city missions despite the associated challenges. Matthew 9:35–38 teaches us that Jesus felt deep compassion for the crowds in the cities, evident through His tears over Jerusalem in Luke 19:41. Emphasis on prayer for alignment of our motives and hearts with those of Jesus is stressed in Matthew 9:38. The section highlights the geographic diversity of people who followed Jesus in Matthew 4:23–25, indicating that His mission journeys were also cross-cultural, as seen in the trip to the region of Tyre and Sidon. This text inspires engagement in urban mission despite difficulties, urging us to emulate Jesus’ love for the masses.
11.3 In Tyre and Sidon
This section fascinatingly illuminates the diverse depictions of the same event in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. The emphasis on the woman’s nationality as a Canaanite in Matthew and her more detailed description as a “Greek from Syrophoenicia” in Mark illustrates how the authors addressed their respective audiences. Matthew’s audience might have viewed the woman as a despised heathen due to historical experiences, while Mark’s Gentile audience might have felt a stronger identification with her. These differences in portrayal provide insights into cultural contexts and demonstrate how Jesus consciously challenged the expectations and prejudices of His listeners. The commentary highlights Jesus’ deep compassion, confronting the disciples with their own coldness and heartlessness while emphasizing the universal significance of His message.
11.4 “Send Her Away!”
It is noted that nationalism, pride, and prejudices during Christ’s time prevented the people of God from bringing the hope of the Messiah to cities like Tyre and Sidon. The comparison with the book of Acts, especially Peter’s vision, underscores the lesson of the Holy Spirit confronting Peter with his religious pride and narrow-mindedness towards the Gentiles. The suggestion to reconsider Jesus’ interaction with the mother and connect the lessons from this excursion with Peter’s vision leads to important considerations about how prejudices influence our perception of the needs of city dwellers. The teaching that God’s plan of salvation encompasses the entire human family is emphasized as a timeless message, just as relevant today as it was then. The appeal to overcome prejudices with patience and through the Holy Spirit to fulfill the mission in cities presents a central challenge for believers.
11.5 Faith on Earth?
This section reminds us that Jesus, in Luke 18:8, seeks a faith that shines even in darkness. The selection of people with strong faith in cities, such as the Gentile centurion in Capernaum, the faithful friends tearing the roof, and the blind Bartimaeus in Jericho, underscores that faith is often found in unexpected places. The admonition that even in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, faith acted as a limiting factor serves as a reminder that faith is not automatically found in religious centers. The timeless lesson is to humbly go into the cities, as Jesus did, and seek people who will respond to the truth with a saving faith in Jesus, even if they come from different cultures and religions.
In conclusion, this lesson on Jesus’ mission in Gentile cities, particularly in Tyre and Sidon, provides a comprehensive insight into the Savior’s missionary approach. Through the analysis of biblical texts and the lessons drawn from encounters with different people, we learn the importance of overcoming national barriers and prejudices to spread a vibrant faith in unexpected places. These biblical teachings encourage us to reflect on our own barriers, open our hearts and missions to all peoples and cultures. By applying Jesus’ teachings in the modern urban context, we are encouraged to be bearers of hope and light in today’s world, overcoming boundaries and working together towards a future where faith shines in every corner of society.
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