The churches we attend don’t really have any, and our friends aren’t poor. Our kids go to school with and play ball with kids who are in roughly the same socioeconomic class as we are. We know the poor are out there, but where? I don’t seem to see too many of them.
By any kind of worldly standard, you and I aren’t poor. In fact, we don’t really even know any poor people.
Think for a second: how many do you know? Do you know anyone who misses meals because he doesn’t have any food? Do you know someone who struggles to feed her children and clothe them adequately?
Jesus’ world had lots of poor folks in it, and I find a statement He made a bit curious in view of the way most of us live.
John the Baptist had asked for some evidence that Jesus really was the Messiah, and here’s Jesus’ response:
“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matthew 11:4-6).
The first part doesn’t really surprise us: Jesus proved Himself to be the Son of God by the miracles that He did: healing the blind and lame and raising the dead.
But then he throws in something that seems out of place. He says that the fact that “the poor have good news preached to them” points to His deity as well (v. 6).
I’ve always told people that they should believe in Jesus because of the amazing things that He did: He restored sight to the blind, healed lepers, gave speech to the mute, and walked on water.
But I guess I’d never worked His preaching to the poor into any of my sermons as evidence of His being God.
That has something to say to us Christians today.
Are we reaching out to the poor?
Could it be said that Jesus is present among us only to the extent that we carry His message to the dispossessed and marginalized?
Most of us probably need to broaden our circles of acquaintances somewhat, get outside our comfort zones, spend time with people who are different from us.
That’s what Jesus did, and He said that was evidence that He was the Son of God.
If one of the identifying characteristics of Jesus as God was that He preached to the poor, why aren’t there poor people in our churches? Jesus was surrounded by them.
I suppose it’s something we ought to think about.