November 12, 2015
Jesus talks about outsiders, invites outsiders to follow him, eats with outsiders, heals outsiders, goes to the home of outsiders, and tells lots of stories about outsiders. Here are 12 places in the gospels where you can read about Jesus and outsiders.
As you read, consider the role of outsiders in your life.
- Who are the outsiders in our culture? How do we treat them? How do you think Jesus would treat them?
- If Jesus were to retell one of the following parables today, who would the main characters be?
Luke 5:27-32 and Matthew 9:9-13 – Jesus calls Matthew/Levi the tax collector
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Matthew 9:12-13
Luke 7:1-10 – Jesus heals a Roman Centurion’s servant
Romans were among the most hated people in Israel in the first century. Roman soldiers … well … it’s hard to describe the hatred and fear that people felt toward them.
Luke 14:15-23 and Matthew 22:1-14 – The parable of the wedding banquet
Those who are farthest out, and who don’t belong at a wedding banquet, are brought in to enjoy the feast.
Luke 15 – Three parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.
God pursues the lost (the outsiders) at all costs.
Matthew 8 – Jesus heals a man with leprosy by touching him.
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. – Matthew 8:3
Not only are lepers ritually unclean, but you can catch leprosy from them! No one wanted to talk with lepers, let alone touch them. But Jesus does both – multiple times! Now, here’s the kicker – Jesus didn’t HAVE to touch them to heal them! There are plenty of other times when Jesus heals someone by speaking. Jesus chose to touch him.
Luke 17 – the ten lepers
While we’re on the topic of lepers, here are 10 more!
Luke 18:9-14 – Parable of Pharisee and Tax Collector
Pharisees are religious teachers, many of whom considered themselves to be righteous. A tax collector was considered a traitor and an extortionist – the poster child for a first century “outsider.”
Luke 19:1-10 – Zacchaeus
Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector of the town, meaning he was the worst of the worst. Notice how Jesus singles Zacchaeus out not to shame him, but to offer him public mercy and grace. Zacchaeus’ response is priceless. Jesus’ final words to him give hope to all of us who have ever been outsiders.
John 4:1-26 – The Samaritan woman at the well
Samaritans were the hated half-cousins of the Hebrews. Jews would avoid the region of Samaria at all costs when traveling from northern Israel to southern Israel. They usually had to go miles out of their way to do this. The woman Jesus is speaking to in this passage is not only a Samaritan, but also has had 5 husbands.
John 4:39-42 – Many Samaritans believe in Jesus
The result of this conversation with the Samaritan woman with 5 husbands? Read this one to find out.
John 8:2-11 – The woman caught in adultery
The self-righteous religious teachers want Jesus to condemn a woman caught in adultery. Instead, Jesus puts himself in harms way for this notorious outsider.
Luke 7:36-50 – A sinful woman anoints Jesus’ feet in the house of a Pharisee.
Jesus is as clear as he can be about the priorities of God’s kingdom in this short story that defines humility and forgiveness.
Matthew 21:28-32 – The parable of the two sons
It contains this gem: “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” – Jesus to the religious teachers in Matthew 21:31