Summary: The title is taken from Jesus' words in Mt. 25 when he said, 'whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine you did for me'. Let's look at how Jesus ministered to the less fortunate.
THE LEAST OF THESE
The title is taken from Jesus' words in Mt. 25 when he said, 'whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine you did for me'. Jesus didn't use that phrase to indicate that the people he was referring to were the least important.
In fact, in Luke 9:48 when the disciples were arguing about which one of them was the greatest, Jesus had a little child stand next to him and he said, 'whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me and the Father. Whoever is least among you all-he is the greatest'.
Last week I did a sermon on encouragement. Afterwards I thought about the kinds of people who need encouragement the most. I thought about Jesus' ministry. Though he loved and ministered to everyone, he paid a lot of attention to the ones who got the least attention and encouragement.
Fast forward to today and although things have improved, society still has a problem with ignoring or shunning certain kinds of people. Typically, the ones who have money, power or popularity get the most attention. Sometimes it's the ones with the loudest voice. They get what they want through annoyance and intimidation. The squeaky wheel gets the grease but they may not be the ones who really need the grease.
A few weeks ago I saw a video about a man with CP named Michael Murray who wrote a book titled, "Nobody Left Out - Jesus Meets the Messes: A 40-Day Devotional for Messy, Broken People (Like Me!)". It was about Jesus' encounters with those who were sick, crippled or sinful; those who were shunned or ignored by society. Obviously as a handicapped person he could relate to some of the ones Jesus ministered to.
Let's look at how Jesus ministered to the less fortunate.
1) Jesus was focused on them.
After he was baptized by John, Jesus went into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Then he started preaching and calling his Apostles. Then we see Jesus healing the sick.
Matt. 4:23-25, "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him."
Early on we see the big focus of Jesus' ministry was preaching and ministering to those who were handicapped in some way. It didn't take long for the news to spread and soon everyone was bringing the less fortunate to Jesus and he healed them.
We don't see Jesus focused on going straight to the religious leaders to hang out with them. He doesn't go back home and chill with his family. He isn't looking to hobnob with the societal elite-he gravitates toward those who many people wouldn't spend time with-the diseased, the demon-possessed, the handicapped; people like that.
What about us? Cornerstone has ministered largely to the kinds of people Jesus focused on. Everyone needs to hear the gospel. Everyone needs to see the love of Jesus displayed through his followers. But the ones who are "different" don't get as much attention as others do.
And though we may be moving to join NSCC that doesn't mean we leave behind our need to minister to the least of these. As long as we have a heart for the ones who tend to get overlooked we will continue to reach out and minister to them.
Matt. 15:29-31, "Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel."
We see that even though Jesus moved locations he still ministered to those who were handicapped. His location changed but his focus didn't. No matter where we are we can still care for the vulnerable. We still love the unlovable, we still reach for those who are tucked away in the corner. We still focus on the least of these.
2) Jesus focused on the "sinners".
Obviously we all fit into that category but some people tend to more readily place that label on people whose sins are more visible or severe in their eyes. I'm referring to the drunks, the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the gang bangers, the thieves, the murderers, the child molesters, etc. These are the people society looks down on.