"The Religious Outcast" - Pastor Mike Larsen
“And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him” (Matt. 8:15).
Here, we have another unusual encounter. Jesus heals another religious outcast. First, the leper, then the Gentile Roman soldier’s servant, and now a woman. Jesus crosses the barriers of society, race, and now gender. Women in Israel were considered second-class citizens because they were born female. One of the 18 prayers recited by the religious Israelite men each day was a prayer of thanks to God for not being born a woman. Considering that Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience, you can see God’s intention to get across very clearly that Jesus came not only for the Jews, but that the Kingdom of Heaven is open to all who believe. To be like Jesus is to delight in giving grace to the Jew, the outcast, the gentile, the slave, the oppressed and the oppressor.
Now consider who are the outcasts are in our culture. Have we created physical, cultural, and sexual barriers in our lives that would keep people from meeting Jesus and feeling welcome in the family of God? Matthew 8 gives us a good argument that Jesus was for the oppressed and marginalized. Jesus loved the outcast and ate with sinners. Jesus was a friend to sinners, and sinners were drawn to Jesus because he was a source of love, grace, mercy, and compassion. I want you to hear this very loud and clear. Jesus did not condone any sinful lifestyle, but at the same time he did not condemn people for their sin either. Here’s the good news and the reason why that is true. Jesus’s mission was to die and be condemned in our place for all of our sins.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus tells us in his own words:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.—John 3:16–18.
Sinners and outcasts were drawn to Jesus because he loved them and he desired to give them grace, a new heart and a new life. To be like Jesus is to delight in giving Grace to the oppressed. Be More Like Jesus!
HOW TO PRAY:
Pray for the pastors, church staff, elders, deacons, and boards of our local churches
Pray for our local churches to be known as a place of God’s grace
Luke 15:1-10 “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
About the Author: Mike serves as the Lead Pastor of Encounter Christian Church in Bellflower, CA. Husband to his amazing wife Sheila. Father of Daniel, Steven, and Mikey and grandfather to Cenovia Rae.