(Mt. 10:5-6) Was Jesus cruel in not ministering to the Gentiles? (cf. 15:24)

CLAIM: Jesus told the Twelve, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt. 10:5-6). He also said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt. 15:24). Was Jesus racist against Gentiles? Why does Jesus only care about the Jews?

RESPONSE: At least a couple of observations can be made:

First, however we interpret this passage, we need to remember that Jesus cares for all people—not just the Jewish people. This same author (Matthew) records that Jesus came to bring light to the Gentiles (Mt. 4:15-16). Jesus’ disciples were to be the light of the world—not just the nation of Israel (Mt. 5:13-16). Jesus healed the Gentile centurion’s servant (Mt. 8:5-13). His disciples would speak before Gentile kings (Mt. 10:8). He predicted that Gentiles would take over God’s kingdom (Mt. 21:43). He predicted that his love would reach all peoples (Mt. 24:14), and he also commanded it (Mt. 28:18-20). Therefore, Jesus was anything but unloving to Gentiles!

Second, it was more strategic to reach the Jews first. Remember, the Jewish people had the Scriptures, and they believed in an infinite-personal God. It made more sense to spread the gospel to them, rather than Gentiles who were polytheistic. Paul adopted the same method (Acts 13:5, 44-48; 14:1) and prescribed it too (Rom. 1:17).