Jesus Was Hated For Not Taking Care Of “His Own” First…And You Will Be Too!
Perhaps you’ve heard it before?
Perhaps you’ve even said it?
Its a well rehearsed mantra one hears whenever immigration, refugees, or asylum seekers are mentioned.
At the Justice Conference Asia I attended this past weekend I learned the harsh realities of local attitudes toward refugees seeking safety in Hong Kong; the “bare minimum” is the policy enacted by the government in the hopes they will just go away. As one Hong Kong Chinese friend said to me, “the attitude is if we are going to help anyone, we should help our own first!”
Our own ethnicity
Our own culture
Our own religion
And it is the same across the world
* Australia is keeping its refugees (and more than 1,000 children) in horrific camps offshore
* American states like Arizona attempt to enact laws that will effectively allow police to discriminate based on a person’s color
* In the U.K. Nigel Farage’s anti-immigration Independence Party (UKIP) just secured 24 out of 73 seats in the European Parliament
This is people living in fear.
A fear that something will be lost. A fear that drives us to take care of our own!
Jesus and “our own”
Jesus was a Jew. The Jews tended to hang out with other Jews. Their teachers were Jews, their friends were Jews, and even their poor and needy were, yes, you guessed it, Jews.
The Jews knew how to take care of their own!
But Jesus had a problem with that.
Jesus tended to stand up for people who were not his own!
* Cannanites (Matthew 15:21)
* Samaritans (John 4)
* Romans (Matthew 8:5)
This got him into a lot of trouble.
We should have seen it coming though. Right at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus got a whole assembly of his Jewish brothers furious because he reminded them that God loved and cared for people other than Jews.
In fact they were going to kill him…
But it didn’t start that way. Here is how it went down;
Jesus had gotten up to read in the local synagogue and had just impressed everyone with his understanding of the sacred scriptures. So…
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they asked.
“Hey, this guy is one of us!” they all start saying to themselves, “one of our own is going to be a great and mighty Jewish prophet!”
Jesus knows what is in their hearts though! That they want the local boy to be their mascot:
Jesus said to them, ‘Surely you will quote this proverb to me: “Physician, heal yourself!” And you will tell me, “Do here in your home town what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.”’
Come on Jesus! Work your “God stuff” here. Heal people here! Teach people here!
Take care of your own first!
Jesus corrects their selfish and parochial “us first” attitude by reminding his brothers God cares for the foreigner as well as his own!
‘Truly I tell you,’ he continued, ‘no prophet is accepted in his home town. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian.’
Luke 4: 25-28
Jesus was telling the crowd that when the Jewish people were hurting and in need, God instead gave help and healing to outsiders!
And how did his progressive friends and neighbours feel about this?
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him (Jesus) out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
The assembly that just moments ago was singing Jesus’ praises now wanted to kill him because he dared to suggest God cared as much about others as he did for them!
Changing what “our own” means
Things haven’t changed much since people wanted to toss Jesus off a high cliff. A Hong Kong Chinese lawyer at the Justice Conference Asia this week talked about the verbal abuse she has endured from locals who find out she advocates for the refugees seeking asylum in Hong Kong.
They hate her because she cares for people who are not her own!
But God teaches us a different way to view humanity…
A better way!
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
What would happen if Asians, Caucasians, Hispanics, Africans and every culture, creed, and color in between could begin to see each other as their own?
As the verse in Galatians says, it would take some faith!
Faith that we are all God’s children!
Faith that God loves my neighbour as much as he loves me!
Faith that my tribe is not the center of the world!
Perhaps with a little faith we could begin to see all humanity as our own!
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