Only the lost sheep of Israel (Mt 15:23-15:24)

“But Jesus

Did not answer her

At all.

His disciples came.

They urged him,

Saying.

‘Send her away!

She keeps shouting

After us.’

He answered.

‘I was sent only

To the lost sheep

Of the house of Israel.’”

 

ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῇ λόγον. καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἠρώτουν αὐτὸν λέγοντες Ἀπόλυσον αὐτήν, ὅτι κράζει ὄπισθεν ἡμῶν.

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν Οὐκ ἀπεστάλην εἰ μὴ εἰς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ.

 

This saying of Jesus is unique to Matthew, thus, not in the Mark narrative.  Jesus did not respond to her with any words at all (ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῇ λόγον).  However, his disciples came to him to tell him to implore or urge her (καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἠρώτουν αὐτὸν λέγοντες) to go away (Ἀπόλυσον αὐτήν), because she was shouting after them (ὅτι κράζει ὄπισθεν ἡμῶν),  Then Jesus answered (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν) that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Οὐκ ἀπεστάλην εἰ μὴ εἰς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ), not to other people.  However, Jesus had cured the Roman centurion’s servant in chapter 8:5-13.

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These twelve apostles were for the Jews (Mt 10:5-10:7)

“Jesus sent out

These twelve,

With the following instructions.

‘Go nowhere

Among the Gentiles!

Enter no town

Of the Samaritans!

But go rather

To the lost sheep

Of the house of Israel!

Preach as you go!

Saying,

‘The kingdom of heaven

Is at hand.’”

 

Τούτους τοὺς δώδεκα ἀπέστειλεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς παραγγείλας αὐτοῖς λέγων Εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν μὴ ἀπέλθητε καὶ εἰς πόλιν Σαμαρειτῶν μὴ εἰσέλθητε·

πορεύεσθε δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ

πορευόμενοι δὲ κηρύσσετε λέγοντες ὅτι Ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

 

There is no exact equivalent to this exclusive mission to the Jews, that this is unique to Matthew.  Jesus sent out these 12 apostles (Τούτους τοὺς δώδεκα ἀπέστειλεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  He commanded them with specific instructions (παραγγείλας αὐτοῖς λέγων).  They were to stay away from the gentiles (Εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν μὴ ἀπέλθητε).  They were not allowed to enter any Samaritan town either (καὶ εἰς πόλιν Σαμαρειτῶν μὴ εἰσέλθητε).  Thus, they had to stay away from the gentiles and the Samaritans.  Their mission, however, was to go to the lost sheep in the house of Israel (πορεύεσθε δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ).  They were to go and proclaim that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (πορευόμενοι δὲ κηρύσσετε λέγοντες ὅτι Ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν).  This is exactly the same teaching as John the Baptist, word for word, as in chapter 3:2.  Matthew had John say that the kingdom of heaven (γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν) was at hand, coming near (ἤγγικεν).  Notice that Matthew did not say the kingdom of God, but the kingdom of heaven.  In fact, it is in the plural, heavens.  This connection of the message of John and Jesus is very strong here in Matthew.

Yahweh will be the good shepherd (Ezek 34:16-34:16)

“I will seek the lost.

I will bring back

The strayed.

I will bind up

The injured.

I will strengthen

The weak.

But I will destroy

The fat.

I will destroy

The strong.

I will feed them

With justice.”

Yahweh was going to seek and bring back the lost sheep along with those who had strayed. He was going to bind up the wounds of these injured sheep. Thus, Yahweh was going to be the good shepherd. However, he was also going to destroy the fat and the strong sheep. He was going to feed them with his justice. There would be no intermediary kings in this new theocracy, since Yahweh himself would hand out justice.