Sunday, June 17, 2012



Secret #63 can best be summed up with the words of Jesus: "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'" (Matthew 11:18-19) This was his reputation. He was known as a friend to the disenfranchised. And those who became followers of Jesus were to be just like their Master. SECRET #63: The follower of Jesus stands with the broken, abused, addicted and the poor, imitating the Master.
Immediately after Jesus called Matthew, the tax collector, to follow Him, Matthew threw a party. Naturally, Matthew invited His family and friends to this party and this was quite a gathering of other tax collectors and sinners or the non-religious. Matthew records it in this way: When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?" But when Jesus heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:11-13)

In the synagogue, even today, there is a weekly reading of the Scriptures. When Jesus showed up at the synagogue in His home town of Nazareth, He read the weekly reading that was really about Him from the prophet Isaiah: And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD." (Luke 4:14-19)

When John's disciples were sent to question Jesus about His credentials, Jesus articulated the same Messianic theme: At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. And He answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me." (Luke 7:21-23)

Later, Jesus said to a person who had invited Him to dinner, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:12-14) Jesus was all about working with and hanging out with the broken, abused, addicted and poor-the disenfranchised of society-and wants His followers to do the same.

One more observation here is Jesus chose as His key followers a group of men from the non-religious world. He chose men who were just ordinary and uneducated men, teenagers, in fact, to lead the most revolutionary movement ever. As the most popular spiritual leader during that time, Jesus didn't stand with other spiritual or religious leaders in the community. In fact, He put them down and embarrassed them time and time again. He seemed to be bent on humbling them, because they loved being in such exalted positions. Believe me, they didn't have much to do with the non-religious. They stood far away from them. On the other hand, Jesus not only stood with them and hung out with them; He also touched them. And when Jesus touched someone, they were encouraged, healed, and empowered! SECRET #63: The follower of Jesus stands with the broken, abused, addicted and the poor, imitating the Master.