3. A Home for Outsiders: Luke
For anyone burdened with a sense of not being enough, Luke proclaims the Jesus who welcomes all, especially the outsider.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.
At some point in life, we’ve all found ourselves on the outside looking in, at a loss for how we might gain entrance or belonging. For anyone burdened with a sense of not being enough - smart enough, popular enough, competent enough - Luke proclaims the Jesus who welcomes all, especially the outsider.
Luke was a first-century Christian who collected eye-witness accounts of Jesus’s life and compiled them into this book. In the time before Christ, God chose and worked out his plan of salvation through the Jews. Luke was a non-Jew, or a Gentile, and he knew that his message would be received by many other Gentiles who might feel excluded or inferior in the family of God. For this reason, Luke’s message centers on the inclusivity of Jesus’s salvation. Who has Jesus come to save?
Jesus has come to save those in need. Jesus launches his ministry by announcing that he has come for the poor, the captive, the blind, and the oppressed. After this proclamation, Jesus begins healing people who are diseased, ill, and paralyzed. He raises a child from the dead. He publicly forgives and restores a prostitute. “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick,” Jesus declares (Luke 5:31). While the world gives priority to the competent and powerful, it is not so with Jesus. He has come for those who know their need.
Jesus has come to save the excluded. In his teaching, Jesus uses a parable to demonstrate how one who has inherited eternal life should live: loving God and loving his neighbor. But Jesus does not use a Jew as the protagonist. In his story, Jesus describes two Jewish religious leaders passing by a wounded man on the road. It is a Samaritan who stops to help this man and loves his neighbor. At the time, Jews shunned Samaritans as ethnic outsiders. But with his parable, Jesus exalts the outsider, welcoming them into his eternal life.
Jesus has come to save the rebellious. Jesus also tells a parable about two sons. One son disowns his father, runs away from home, and wastes all his father’s inheritance through irresponsible life choices. This son comes back home for help, ashamed and sorry for his actions. Overjoyed at his son’s return, the father throws a party! The older, obedient son, however, resents his father’s forgiveness and misses out on the celebration. With this story, Jesus demonstrates that God has come to seek and save the lost, and he joyfully welcomes the humble and repentant! A perfect tract record is irrelevant to belonging in God’s family.
Jesus has come to save his enemies. Offended by Jesus’s teaching and upset at how he has disrupted their social order, the Jewish religious leaders decide to put Jesus on trial, where he is sentenced to death by crucifixion. Amazingly, as Jesus hangs on the cross, he prays for the very people killing and mocking him. “Forgive them, Father!” Jesus cries (Luke 23:34).
Seeing Christ for who he is, a criminal crucified besides Jesus is moved to confess his sin and ask, “Remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” “Today,” Jesus pronounces, “You shall be with Me in Paradise.” Jesus has come to save those who helplessly cast themselves upon him for salvation.
As recipients of this salvation, we are invited to live with our eyes open to those whom the world might reject, but who are welcomed by Christ. “Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” -Luke 14:13
RESPOND: What would it look like for you to extend yourself to the types of people Jesus gravitated towards? In light of Christ’s gift of acceptance and belonging, take a moment to process in prayer who you might reach out to and care for today.