Who Experienced Jesus First?
Dec 13, 2010 by Scott Klingsmith | 0 Comments
What do these people have in common?
- A pregnant, unmarried teenager
- Violent and unclean Gypsies of the lowest social class
- A common laborer
- An old homeless woman and an old man
These were the people who first experienced Jesus. None of them had any kind of special status in the society of that time. They were on the outskirts of society, the marginalized, the overlooked, the despised, the forgotten. Our greeting card images of Christmas blind us to this fact.
Jesus came first to those who were outsiders. Mary was stigmatized as a sinner. The shepherds were despised and unwanted—they probably only spoke the local dialect (Bethlehemish?) instead of standard Aramaic. The magi probably looked weird and spoke with a strange accent, and they obviously didn’t understand the local culture (how else to explain such unpractical gifts). Joseph and Mary were homeless and had to flee as refugees to Egypt (which meant that Jesus himself was a refugee). And the elderly Anna and Simeon were in their final days and no longer fulfilled any useful function in society. When Jesus announced his ministry in Luke 4:18-19, he made verbally explicit what he had already demonstrated through his birth:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19)
The ones to whom he would minister were the same ones to whom He had first appeared. Jesus came to the poor. He came to the sick—to those who need a doctor, not to the healthy. Jesus came to the prisoners and oppressed and handicapped, because they knew that they needed him.
Does Jesus come to us today? At the beginning we come to Jesus, knowing that we need him. But later, we try to make ourselves pretty and clean, so that we don’t need him anymore. We think we aren’t poor, and so we miss him. We think that we are healthy, and then Jesus is not there for us any longer . But when we constantly acknowledge that we are poor and helpless, imprisoned and blind—either physically or spiritually—then Jesus can come to us.