As long as we’re around, until Jesus returns, there will be social outcasts. The people truly in need, struggling, and unnoticed. The homeless, ones not knowing where to get food and shelter, and people who are ignored by most. Thanksgiving is a charitable time of year, but as Christians, we cannot be satisfied with helping out during charity drives. How do we practically engage with those who are society’s outcasts? What must we constantly keep in mind when it comes to the outcasts in life?
Jesus, at the time we arrive at Luke 18, is a miracle performing rockstar. People know who He is, they have all heard about Him, He has caused quite a fantastic stir. As He came into the town of Jericho, we see a beautiful picture of taking care of the outcasts.
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
We have a blind man, begging, kicked to the curb noticing there is something happening in the town. He discovers Jesus is in town and realizes the opportunity to gain his vision. By referring to Jesus as the Son of David, this blind man is demonstrating faith that Jesus is the Messiah Old Testament prophets spoke about. He cries out for help.
Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Those who led the way, who have the front row tickets to Jesus, speaking to privilege and blessing - how do they treat the outcast? They look down on him, try to shush him, and think of him as a nuisance. The blind man doesn’t care, he is focused on his opportunity to meet Jesus and experience His mercy. The response of the privileged is a bit disappointing, but maybe a response we can unfortunately connect with.
And in the next few verses, Jesus brilliantly and strategically teaches an incredible lesson to the people who were there and to anyone who reads this passage of God’s Word. Luke 18:40-43:
Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.
Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
Jesus hears the cry of the blind man, He stops, and has compassion. But instead of going over to the man Himself, He has those who led the way bring the outcast to Him. The same people who were moments removed from shushing the man and rebuking him, were now showing Him the love of Jesus and bringing him into the presence of the Lord. Wow! See how we fit into this story? Being Christians and accepting Jesus as your Savior is a blessing beyond words - we are saved! But a step further, living in this country, having the freedoms we have, and compared to the rest of the world - we live like royalty. We have so much blessing and privilege! Jesus told the people in this story to bring the outcast to Him, and taught us all a lesson: show the ones who are kicked to the curb the love of God and bring them to Him.
What must we always keep in mind when it comes to the people that society would consider outcast? Remember that with great power comes great responsibility. A line made famous by Spiderman’s uncle, but first demonstrated by Jesus. Knowing Jesus and living where we live with the luxuries we have, we have the responsibility to take care of those who are in need! Whether that means regular partnering with a homeless shelter or that means simply stopping to notice someone in need and having a conversation with them - we should be quick to help those in need, show the disenfranchised the love of Jesus, and make every effort to bring them to the grace of God. So the next time you see a homeless person, will you walk right past and pretend they don’t exist? Jesus said in Matthew 25 that whatever we do for the “least of these” we do for Him. Which makes the opposite true: whatever we don’t do for the least of these, we don’t do for Him. Let’s make efforts to notice the people regularly unnoticed, help them any way we can even if that means just talking and reminding them they’re human, and make those attempts to bring them to Jesus.