When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
To his listeners, Jesus seemed to be redrawing the boundaries for who was inside and who was outside the Kingdom of God. The Jews should have known that when the Messiah came, his blessings would draw many Gentiles into the Kingdom (see Isaiah 66:12, 19). The Old Testament teaches that faithful people of God from all over the world will be gathered to feast with the Messiah (Isaiah 25:6; 55).
At the same time, Jesus told the crowd that many religious Jews would actually be outside the Kingdom because of their lack of faith. His message shocked his listeners. They liked their religious traditions. They were comfortable with the old boundary lines. But now Jesus was saying that faith was the boundary line, not heritage. But the Jewish people could not accept Christ and his new message.
As Christians claiming God’s promises, we must not apply them using our own principles. God wants to reach all the people he loves. He wants to make outsiders into insiders. We must be careful not to let our religious habits define God’s boundaries.