Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! (Mt 8:5–10).
Peter said to Cornelius, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation.” (Ac 10:28)
It wasn’t that Jews were forbidden to mix with Gentiles in general, it was the idea of entering a house, or eating and drinking. And in the Midrash Rabbah on Leviticus, 20, there is an interesting example of the sort of ceremonial defilement which association with the the gentile might bring about, “It happened that Shimeon the son of Kimkhith (who was high-priest) went out to speak with the King of the Arabians, and there came a fleck of spittle from the King’s mouth upon the priest’s garment and so he was unclean; and his brother Judah went in and served instead of him in the high priest’s office.
Clearly, this didn’t seem to bother Jesus, who ministered to the Centurion, the Canaanite woman, the Samaritan woman, and the Samaritan leper. In each case, it was as if Jesus wanted to shock the Jews into realizing the opportunity they had; God had come into their midst. It was the unclean Gentiles that seem to express faith, as opposed to the Jews who showed their unbelief.
Perhaps we, too, need to open our eyes and be willing to receive from the Muslim, the Jew, the Buddhist, the mystic or even the atheist. The shock value might change our thinking.
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