Updated: Aug 26, 2022
When Jesus sent the disciples out to minister, He told them to go only to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:6). Jesus does this because He came to the Jewish nation in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Matthew 15:24). However, when the nation’s leaders rejected Christ as their promised messianic King, the way was opened for Gentiles to come into the kingdom of God through Christ (Romans 11:7-12). Christ did not commission His followers to make disciples of all nations until the end of Matthew’s Gospel, just before He ascended to heaven (Matthew 28:18-20). However, we can find breadcrumbs dropped throughout Matthew’s account showing that God would offer the Gentiles salvation either through the Jewish nation as originally set forth (Genesis 12:1-3) or through Christ's own band of disciples, the church.
Some of the ways that Matthew brings this universal mission of the church to the forefront are found as early as chapter one. In Matthew 1:1, Jesus is introduced not only as the Son of David (the Jewish messianic King), but also as the Son of Abraham (1:1). It was to Abraham that the promise was first given that through him, that is through Abraham’s seed (offspring), all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18). In time, Jesus Christ was born as this "Seed" through whom the families of the earth are blessed—Jews and Gentiles alike. The breadcrumbs continue in Matthew’s genealogy of Christ where the author included Gentile women in Jesus’ family tree (Matthew 1:2-17).
The breadcrumb trail of salvation for the nations continues throughout Matthew’s account of Jesus’ ministry. When a Canaanite woman approached Jesus for help, He challenged her faith saying that He was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (15:24). Being full of faith, the Canaanite woman answered Him, in effect, that even the breadcrumbs from the master’s table would be sufficient for her. Christ called her faith "great," and He honored her request for healing (15:27-28)! Jesus went on to establish a New Covenant so whosoever, Jews and Gentiles alike, can come to Him in faith (26:26-28). And finally, Christ directly commanded His followers to go and make disciples of all nations (28:18-20). God's plan to redeem His creation as a people for Himself was sure to come about...and aren't we glad!
You can learn more about growing as a disciple of Christ and about making disciples through spending time in Matthew’s Gospel. Join the journey!
Get started with the Dusty Sandals: A Woman's Walk Through the Prophecies and Promises of Matthew, Volume 1, study guide