Monday, February 04, 2008

Jesus Loves Women, Minorities, and Outcasts Too

"Ten Lepers" by James C. Christensen

In both the fall and spring semesters, I teach "The New Testament." It's a basic first-year course where we focus on content. This time around, it's a night class, Mondays from 7:00 to 9:45 p.m. Tonight we're scheduled to explore a part of the NT that has become one of my favorites: Luke and Acts.

I've heard it repeated many times before: as he tells the story of Jesus, Luke puts a good bit of emphasis on how Christ paid attention to and elevated the overlooked and often-despised people of his world, namely women, Samaritans, and various sorts of outcasts. But I never realized how pronounced this was until I recently saw a list of passages that are unique to Luke. Each passage listed below is found only in that Gospel:


1. Mary encounters an angel (1:26-38)
2. Mary and Elizabeth (1:39-45)
3. Mary's Song (1:46-56)
4. Jesus raises the widow's son (7:11-17)
5. The sinful woman forgiven (7:36-50)
6. Women who supported Jesus (8:1-3)
7. Mary and Martha (10:38-42)
8. Woman healed on the Sabbath (13:10-17)
9. Parable of the widow and the judge (18:1-8)

But it's not just women. Luke seems to have a soft spot in his heart for telling the stories of various kinds of people, some who were deeply despised:

Shepherds and Lepers, Tax Collectors and Samaritans

1. Shepherds at Jesus' birth (2:8-20)
2. The Good Samaritan (10:29-37)
3. Ten lepers healed, including one thankful Samaritan (17:11-19)
4. Pharisee and the tax collector (18:9-14)
5. Zacchaeus, the tax collector (19:1-10)

Luke could have told a lot of different stories about Jesus. But, writing by inspiration, he told these ones. I wonder, if Jesus had lived in our times, of all the people He might have encountered, which ones would Luke recall?


Anonymous said...

For at least 10 years the community of believers (Church of Christ) to which I belong went through a process of discerning the openness to women's gifts in a more inclusive manner. At one point one of the elders "preached" one Sunday morning by reading the passages from Luke of Jesus' interaction with women. As a footnote, our community does include women and (as an elderly woman) I have to say the depth of our public prayers and focus on being the followers of Jesus has had the effect of leaven.

Frank Bellizzi said...

Thank you for your comment. I was glad to read your gracious words.