The man who has ruined his life through sin has a hard time fitting into the community. The woman who has kept herself publicly pure, tends to fit in well. The guy who is destitute, poor, homeless and unshaven has a hard time making friends. The woman who is educated, prosperous and tidy, seems to find friends easily.
The man who is single, widowed or orphaned often finds themselves alone, isolated and sometimes lonely. The woman who has colleagues, a husband and children, seems to live on a social merry-go-round.
The one who is blind, lame, crippled and deaf, sometimes finds himself ostracised, excluded, or avoided. The fit, the strong and the good-looker, are always invited to the party.
For most of us, this all seems pretty obvious. It’s just the way things are.
Then comes Jesus, a man of ordinary appearance, a quiet and gentle disposition, and a humble heart that’s filled with compassion. And He turns all this social status stuff on its head.
Jesus surprises us and tells us that many of these folk (who appear to have it together) are actually pretty horrible. And, when pressed, we get to see that horror for ourselves (John 11:53, Acts 9:1).
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27).
Jesus surprises us further by revealing another community, an eternal community, very different from the religious community of His day. And who’s first in the door? It isn’t the looker, the successful career woman or those with status in Israel. It’s the blind, the weak, the children, the beggar, the sinner, the widow, the orphan, the poor, the unclean and, yes, fishermen!
The rich are full, with no room for God, and so they are turned away empty-handed. The hypocrite is pure in his own eyes, and so he becomes blind. The healthy have no need of a physician, and so they are left without a cure. The strong have no admiration for the weak, and so they turn away from the Lamb that was slain.
If the sinner has problems getting into the Kingdom, then the righteous have it doubly so. If the empty have to strive to enter through the narrow gate, what chance do they have who are trusting in their riches or wit to get them through the eye of the needle?
Hungry sinners have nothing in their hands to placate an angry God, and so what does He do? He fills the hungry with good things. That’s grace.
The rich in this life have their hands full and will not empty themselves of their riches. That is their folly.
Turns out, Jesus came to save the empty, the weak, the small, the broken, the destitute. And it’s from this emptiness that they cry out. And it’s this emptiness that Jesus came to fill by calling us to admit our sin, repent and put our faith in Christ.
The God of the Gospel invites us all to come to Him and fill up on the good things. Good things like truth, humility, mercy and love. If you do that, if you fill your life with goodness, you’ll likely be surrounded by what is good. But if you are horrible, don’t be surprised to find yourself surrounded and filled by horror.