Jesus’ miracles show compassion, concern for outcasts from society
As much as the miracles invite our faith to grow, Jesus reveals the heart of God through the way he shows love and compassion for people who were outsiders or were unclean.
When Jesus walked the earth, Israel was a troubled nation — at odds religiously with the Samaritans, viewed by Israelites as heretics. Israel was occupied by the Roman army, an experience Israelites hated universally.
The Jews were divided religiously into warring sects. They had a large population of outcasts: those who had disease or physical handicaps, people possessed by demons, women who had become prostitutes.
Jesus shows mankind how to treat others. He told a person asking about the greatest command that the first was to love God with all his being. He went on to explain that the second great command was to love neighbors as one loves himself.
John tells the story of Jesus and his disciples traveling from Jerusalem through Samaria to Galilee. At Sychar the disciples go into the city to buy food while Jesus rests by Jacob’s well. A Samaritan woman comes to draw water.
The woman is amazed when Jesus asks her for water to drink. She does not understand why he would talk to her or ask for water. Despite her questionable reputation, Jesus carries on a conversation in which he tells about living water and reveals that he is the Messiah. Through this worldly woman, a village of Samaritans comes to know Jesus (John 4).
On another occasion when Jesus called his disciples, he stopped at a tax collector’s table. Among the most despicable of the Jews were those who served the oppressive Roman Empire. Tax collectors were most reviled because they confronted other Jews to collect taxes.
But Jesus views Matthew as a worthy person who can serve the kingdom of God. Matthew then hosts a feast to honor Jesus, and Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners to bring truth and honor to their lives.
When Jesus was pressing his way through a crowd on his way to care for Jairus’ dying daughter, he is touched by a woman, a woman who is unclean because she has had an issue of blood for 17 years. Jesus says he knows “that power has gone out from (him).” He insists on finding the woman and visiting with her.
Not only is she healed, but she is honored by Jesus and sent away in peace.
To illustrate the principle of recognizing a neighbor, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. Through this memorable story, he depicts the alien Samaritan as morally superior to the priest and the Levite. The Samaritan shows compassion that goes beyond legalistic religion of most Jews during the first century.
Matthew tells about Jesus traveling to Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman came out shouting for him to cast a demon from her daughter. Jesus at first did not answer and eventually made a derogatory remark about Gentiles.
The woman persists, even accepting the insult and turning it to her advantage. Then Jesus answers, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
I confess that Jesus’ words to the woman are troublesome insults and out of character for the savior. Clearly the story is a lesson about the power of faith.
Luke, who traces a theme of Christ’s life in his reaching out to Gentiles, women and the marginalized, tells the story of the centurion who has a seriously ill servant. The centurion — a Roman Gentile — asks elders or Capernaum to approach Jesus with the request to heal the servant.
When Jesus and the elders approach the house of the centurion, he sends friends to tell Jesus not to trouble himself but just to say the word and the servant would be healed. “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’”
Jesus, the son of God, had the heart of a man. He was a Jew but in his eyes all men and women are God’s creation. The God who gave man life showed love when he lived as a man.
FeedbackDear preacher, I congratulate you on good exegesis that you have put across all over the world.thank youFrancis MawieSantasi church of christ-kumasiKumasi, Ashanti Region
GhanaMay, 1 2012Thank you for this brief outline of how Jesus cared for the downtrodden, the lost, the people who were both physically and spiritually sick…basically, the outcast of their society. Christ did not have to measure them up and down to see how “faithful” they were before He helped them…He acted out of a deep love for those who really needed Him most. There is much to be learned from this simple article, and I applaud you for writing it.,May, 13 2009