Was Jesus racist? it sounded like it when He first sent out His apostles.
“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6)
Why only tell Israel? Didn’t the other nations deserve to hear the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven? It was not that He cared about them more than the other nations. To the contrary, Jesus’ ultimate goal was to give the invitation and opportunity to everyone on earth. As He explained to His disciples, late in His ministry:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
So, why did Jesus send His disciples only to the people of Israel in the beginning? it was how God’s plan was designed to work. When you split wood, you can’t use a sledgehammer. You must hit the wood with a sharp point and then gradually spread the force outward. When you start a fire, you cannot pile all the wood on at once and try to light a log with your match. You must start small, with carefully prepared kindling.
For 2000 years, through the times of Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Isaiah and Daniel (to name but a few), God carefully prepared Israel to “get it” when Jesus would come. Their history and cultural DNA gave them the context to understand His message, His sacrifice and His offer of redemption. All these things had explained to Israel through their prophets and other sacred writings. When Jesus struck His “match,” it needed to be applied to the kindling of the “lost sheep of Israel.” For more about that strategy, see “Sourdough Theology.”
Expert professionals sometimes do things that seem illogical or counterproductive to us, But then those things work and we think, “Hey, they really do know what they are doing. In a similar way, I am awestruck by how God’s plan to rescue all peoples by choosing one people, revealed many hundreds of years in advance, was applied, unchanged, by Jesus, After His resurrection, Jesus reiterated how the plan would work:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”” (Acts 1:8)
Their small, local witness, would gradually expand outward, until all the world had heard the News. That original plan continues to work, 2000 years later.
Perhaps God really does know what He is doing…