There is much talk about the distinction between Peter and Paul in the early church. Peter was focused on bring the Good News to the Jews. The Messiah they had prophesied about for centuries has come. Paul was bring that same Good News to the Gentiles. That Messiah that the Jews are looking for… He’s for them as well. This message is later made clear to Peter as well in a vision. But the clarity that the Good News was for both Jews and Gentiles was actually made clear long before Saul became Paul. In fact it was Jesus Himself that did so.
In Mark 6, we learn about the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. This took place in a Jewish region and had numbers that can be identified to connect to a Jewish background. This miracle take place BEFORE the feeding of the 4,000 (just two chapters later). The Mark 8 miracle is similar, a feeding of the multitudes. But it takes place in a Gentile region with numbers more symbolic to the Gentiles. Some have questioned if these are really just two accounts of the same event, but Jesus Himself clarifies this. “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”” (Mark 8:19-1)
What’s significant about this is the fact that the first miracle, the Jewish feeding of the 5,000 is the only pre-resurrection story that appears in all four gospels. This means there must be an increased importance in its message. Then such an important message is then repeated to the Gentiles as well. Jesus was clear. His message was for ALL.
As we head into Christmas, just two days away, we reflect on the Son of God giving up all rights to deity and coming as a baby. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Phil 2:5-7) In doing so, His coming was not merely for the Jews, but was for all mankind.
This Christmas, remember that He came for all. He came for the Jews. He came for the atheists. He came for the pagans. He came for the lost. And truth be told, we are ALL lost until He finds us. My prayer this Christmas is that more people see the real reason for the season. We begin to see more in common with each other instead of only focusing on the differences. We are all lost. We all need Him. And He is the only one who can save us.
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