At the time of Jesus’ coming, the world was roughly divided into two kinds of people—God’s chosen people, the Jews, and everyone else, the Gentiles. For hundreds of years, the Jews had been seeking the promised Messiah, but they looked in the wrong kinds of places for the wrong kind of person.
They sought an earthly king who would deliver them from earthly miseries. They failed to see the gaping flaws in the system of sacrifices that comprised their religion. Soon, the writer of Hebrews would tell them:
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins (Hebrews 10:1-2, KJV).
Ask any Challenge II or III students and they will tell you that the second verse is begging to be made into a logical syllogism.
If the sacrifices made the sinners perfect, they would cease to offer them.
The sinners did not cease to offer them.
Therefore, the sacrifices did not make them perfect.
The Jews sought the Messiah and yet they did not look for the perfect sacrifice.
All of these things I learned in Sunday School, but it was not until I began to pursue classical, Christian education that I saw how the Gentiles sought Him, too. With my Challenge III class the last few years, I read how Greek philosophers sought the one unifying principle that would explain the universe.
Is it possible that the Gentiles were seeking Him, too?