What to know As our friends begin to hear and be gripped by the message of Jesus, it's common to see them seek out the perspectives of Islamic apologists and scholars. This can be a really honorable act: Scripture says to "Examine everything carefully. Hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:21.) Let your friends hear these words, and encourage them in their examination of the claims of Christ. (As followers of Jesus, we need to remember that it stands. We don't need to be afraid.) One speaker that many Muslims listen to is Ahmed Deedat, who (among other topics), gave
a lecture on the Jewish identify of Jesus as evidence that He's not God. A clip from his seminar can be heard here. Among topics that he covers, Deedat raises the (true) assertion that Jesus said, "I was sent only for the lost sheep of Israel." This aligns with the Islamic view of prophets: that each was sent to a particular people group for a specific moment in time. In keeping with this view, some believe that Mohammad was sent to Arabs specifically (and that other people groups have their own prophets). Others believe that Mohammad brought the final and perfect message from God that is to the whole world. Regardless of how Muslim communities view Mohammad, the question of Jesus remains: Why do Christians believe that Jesus came for the whole world, when he himself said he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel?
What to say
Read Matthew 14 and 15 together. Next, read John 14.
Ask your friend to be patient in drinking deeply from the Word of God before trying to arrive at an understanding.
Let your friend process what he or she is reading, and be available to listen to their thoughts as they take it in. We'll address a secondary question that might come up as they read Matthew 14 in a moment.
Talk about Matthew 15:24 within the context of John 14:12.
What are the "great works" of al-Masih? (Giving commands to a storm and sea; raising the dead; forgiving sins; casting out demons...)
What works could be "greater" than these? What was al-Masih referring to?
Read 1 Peter 1:11-12, Ephesians 3:5-6, and 1 Corinthians 2:9.
What was the great wonder that "even angels longed to look into"?
Tie it together: Jesus expressed that his physical ministry to humans who were suffering was limited, by command of God, to the lost sheep of Israel during his time on earth. But he knew and prophesied of a time when he would be killed, and would draw "all people to [Himself]" (John 12:32.) Pause to read John 12 in its full context.
He also prophesied that he would raise from the dead, and would ascend to Heaven. He said that after his ascension, Rouh al-Qudus (the Holy Spirit) would come live within those who believe in him - those who receive Him as the Qurban or Adha (sacrifice) that can cleanse us from our sins. (If you haven't explained the Gospel yet, pause to do that.) He said that at that time, Rouh Al-Qudus would "teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26).
After the ascension of Jesus, a powerful miracle happened: Rouh Al-Qudus came with the sound of a "violent wind from heaven" (Acts 2). At that time, the disciples of Jesus were filled with power to understand the Injil (Good News) of Jesus, and to fulfill the final command of Jesus: to bring this message to "all nations." Read Matthew 28 together.
Although Jesus was under a restriction, by the will of God, it was temporary: the Word of God speaks clearly that he came for the whole world. He was chosen "before creation of the world" (1 Peter 1:20). In keeping with the desire of God, he "was proclaimed among the nations, [and] was believed in throughout the world..." (1 Timothy 3:16). He "shared in [our] humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil--and free those who all their lives were held in slavery..." (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Return to John 15, our original passage...this time, in parallel with John 6 (emphasis on verses 22-40).
All of us, like this woman, are unworthy of the "Bread of Life." If we flinch at the words she was described with - a dog at a table -, we might be missing the enormity of what the Gospel is. Scripture says that humans were enemies of God (Romans 8:7). If we fail to recognize the severity of this truth, we will fail to recognize how high his grace is. This non-Jewish woman had what Scripture describes as "shameless audacity" (Luke 11:8). She believed that Jesus would be gracious to her, despite not being in Jewish-covenant with God. And he was. And he longs to be gracious today. "Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"
The heartbeat of God is and always has been for the lost: since the days of Adam and Eve, when the first prophecy was made, he has been revealing his willingness to rescue us. To find us. To bring us out of darkness and into light. "Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8) - and any teaching that minimizes his message as less than for all mankind is errant, and not from God.