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The Christians of Tyre

The Mediterranean seaport city of Tyre already had a very ancient history in the time of Christ's first coming. Located in what is today Lebanon, Jesus Christ was well-familiar with Tyre, which was only about 40 miles north of Nazareth (in contrast, Jerusalem was about 70 miles south of Nazareth). Many of the non-Israelite people of Tyre also became eagerly familiar with the teachings of the Messiah and became converted "before their time" - a profound irony, as explained below, but nevertheless a shining example of how the natural power of good character can find its way to a far greater power of good.

"But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you"

Some people of Tyre were among those who came to follow Christ at the time that His ministry had barely begun. In this example, they were already there before the Messiah had chosen the twelve apostles. Notice however that "He straitly charged them that they should not make Him known" - definitely not something that a man seeking the widest possible audience, at that time, would say.

Map Of Galilee

"But Jesus withdrew Himself with His disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed Him, and from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things He did, came unto Him. And He spake to His disciples, that a small ship should wait on Him because of the multitude, lest they should throng Him. For He had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon Him for to touch Him, as many as had plagues. And unclean spirits, when they saw Him, fell down before Him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And He straitly charged them that they should not make Him known."

"And He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto Him whom He would: and they came unto Him. And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: And Simon He surnamed Peter; And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and He surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed Him" (Mark 3:7-19 KJV)

In this example, Christ went up to Tyre, not to preach, but to remain anonymous, because, for the most part, it was not yet their time. That's why He used the stark "it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs" analogy, not as an insult, but rather to illustrate how He had not come to preach to everyone, yet (He sometimes used parables for that same reason, to hide the meaning of His teachings from those whose time was not yet come e.g. "Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given," Matthew 13:11 KJV). Nevertheless, by the sheer good will, or will of good, in some of them, Christ helped them - and they became true Christians.

"And from thence He arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but He could not be hid. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of Him, and came and fell at His feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought Him that He would cast forth the devil out of her daughter."

"But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto Him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs. And He said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed." (Mark 7:24:30 KJV)

Christ's avoidance of teaching some, while actively teaching others, was the basis for His "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes" as quoted below. Christ was directly teaching the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida (which were nearby towns to Christ's home in Capernaum, located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee), but most of them rejected Him, while many of the people of Tyre, who did not have the benefit of Christ's more direct efforts (at that time, for that time) nevertheless accepted Him for what He was - the Messiah. Non-Israelites of Tyre accepted Him as the Messiah, while many of His fellow Jews rejected Him.

"Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you." (Luke 10:13-14 KJV)

Years later, those same Christians of Tyre welcomed the apostle Paul (many of the people of Tyre were Christians before Paul was, while Paul the Pharisee was still actually a persecutor of the Church - see Paul's Ministry), and through the Holy Spirit that was obviously within them, warned Paul of the dangers that awaited him in Jerusalem. Paul was a stranger to them, as a man, but he was a brother to them, in Christ, because of the Holy Spirit that was in them all by then.

"Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden. And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed. And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again." (Acts 21:3-6 KJV)

Fact Finder: What is it that makes repentance and conversion possible? How is it that even the twelve apostles did not understand Christ's words until a critical point?
See "God Forbid, Lord!" and Ears To Hear

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