God goes to the wrong people. You know, “those people.”
The ones we wouldn’t pick, if God was leaving the picking up to us (it’s a good thing He’s not).
And this is not new. He’s been doing it for a long time.
Jesus reminds his listeners of this uncomfortable truth in Luke chapter 4…
“Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel during Elijah’s time, when there was drought for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land.”
Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
“And there were many lepers in Israel during the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”
When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious.
Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff… (vs 25-29)
It seems like a weird over-reaction, don’t you think? Why were these Jewish listeners so outraged and scandalized by what Jesus was saying?
Is the idea that God loves people we despise or hate or are terrified of that hard to swallow?
On Sunday, Brian Zahnd tweeted out these three questions:
#1: If it turns out that Jesus saves far more people than your theology anticipated, will you be mad or glad about it?
#2: If Jesus saves people who do not fall into the religious category of Christian, will you be mad or glad about it?
#3: Does it make you mad that I ask these questions because you are certain that such things could never happen?
A few chapters after Jesus talks about God’s work among the people of Sidon and Syria, he attends the dinner party of a Pharisee named Simon. An uninvited guest crashes the party – someone known in the community as “a woman of the streets—a prostitute” (Luke 7.37 TLB).
She wants to see Jesus – and Jesus fully welcomes her presence, unconcerned about how disruptive this was to everyone else at the party (because God goes to the wrong people).
Luke 7.39 says, When Jesus’ host, a Pharisee, saw what was happening and who the woman was, he said to himself, “This proves that Jesus is no prophet, for if God had really sent him, he would know what kind of woman this one is!”
Oops. Simon the Pharisee had it all wrong.
Jesus wasn’t just sent by God. Jesus is God incarnate, God with skin on. And He certainly knew what kind of woman this was…
Which is why He welcomed her. Because God goes to the wrong people.
Just like with the widow at Zarephath, God goes to the wrong people.
Just like with Naaman the Syrian leper, God goes to the wrong people.
God goes to the wrong people. And this is not new. He’s been doing it for a long time.
Don’t be mad.