Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 8:1-13.
Matthew 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
In Matthew 8 a Roman centurion approaches Christ to intercede for the healing of his servant. After acknowledging the man’s faith (Matt 8:10), our Lord takes the occasion to anticipate the reality that while many Gentiles will believe in him, while many (though not all) of his fellow Jews will reject him. John 1:11: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”
So Christ prophesies, “That many shall come from the east and west…” That is, they shall come from the farthest reaches of the whole world, from one end of the horizon to the other. “… and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (v. 11).
This is spoken by the same Lord Jesus who when he is risen from the dead will commission the apostles to go and teach all nations (Matt 28:19-20).
This is the great “mystery” of which Paul speak in Ephesians 3 which in other ages was not known but is now revealed “unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Eph 3:5): “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel (Eph 3:6).
The other side of this prophesy is not so pleasant (v. 12). Namely, that the “children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” He is talking here about unbelieving Jews, those who are the physical seed of Abraham but not the spiritual seed of Abraham (cf. Rom 2:28-29; 9:6; Gal 3:27-29). Spurgeon observed: “The centurion comes from the [soldier’s] camp to Christ, and the Israelite goes from the synagogue to hell” (Matthew, 83).
Do you see again the binary nature of the Christian religion? There are two ways. In the end, you are either sitting down at a feast in the kingdom or you are cast outside. And what is the deciding factor? It is not your ethnicity. It is how you have responded to Christ.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle