Continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom. I believe the secrets of the kingdom of God have been given to us (Matthew 13:11). This kingdom message is the reason Jesus came (Luke 4:43). So I'm examining different passages on this topic.
Here Jesus words to a (non-Jewish) centurion who had faith in Jesus:
Matt 8:10-12 (NIV)
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
I think the main point Jesus is making here is that the kingdom of God is for people of all races who have faith in him. This was a new way of thinking for the Jews of Jesus day. It took the early church some time to accept it.
Elements of racism have existed in the church from time to time throughout church history. But there is no place for racism in Christ's kingdom.
Some additional thoughts:
- This passage could be talking about a present tense kingdom or reign of God, or a future reality. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are part of this kingdom, and others from all over will (soon?) come and join this kingdom. Or maybe Jesus was talking about a future reality that has still not come. See also Luke 16:16, Luke 17:21, Matt 21:32 , Matt 16:28, Mark 12:32-34, Luke 18:17
- The kingdom of God is sometimes described in terms of the kingdom of light vs the kingdom of darkness. Here is another reference where those who are no longer in the kingdom are thrown out into darkness.