Below is an email I just sent my to-be sister-in-law. She works with mentally handicapped kids.
So, I'm spending a good deal of time reading through the Gospel of Luke lately. And the Holy Spirit, through God's Word hit me pretty heavy today, and I thought I'd share it with you.
I was looking at what exactly was said about this baby Jesus. And then a bit further into what He had to say about himself, all in the first few chapters. In 1:68 Zechariah says, "... he has come to redeem his people" then in the next verse he says Jesus is a "horn of salvation." In 1:71 Zechariah says, "salvation from our enemies..." then "... to show mercy." This "mercy" made me look back at Mary's song up a bit in the first chapter. Mary also says, "...remembering to be merciful..." Even the explanation of John the Baptist in 1:77 says of John, "...you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him (talking about Jesus), to give his people the knowledge of salvation... because of the tender mercy of our God..."
Then Simeon in 2:30 (who had been waiting around quite a while to see God's salvation for Israel, declares of Jesus after seeing him in the temple, "...my eyes have seen your salvation..." Shortly thereafter in 2:38, the prophetess Anna "...spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel."
It was clear. Jesus is a savior and redeemer. God, in His mercy, sent Jesus to be savior! He sent Jesus to be redeemer! The job description of Christ is to save and redeem!
Ok, this is common to most who have any knowledge of Jesus, but Luke's point was clear to me. Jesus is savior and redeemer. So I started wondering, well, savior and redeemer of whom? In Mary and Zechariah's passages they say for the Israelites. Well, I'm not an Israelite. I camped on two verses. 2:10 the angel (talking to the shepherds) says "I bring good news of great joy that will be for all the people." All the people! That's me!
Then I checked out Simeon's prayer also in 2:32 and notice Jesus is described as "...a light for revelation to the Gentiles..." That's also me! Jesus is savior and redeemer of me, you, and whoever wants it!
Ok, Bart why in the heck are you walking me through your Bible study? Here's why: In Luke 4:23-27 Jesus is thrown out because he tells some Israelites God is merciful to whomever he wants, not just the Israelites. They got mad and tried to kill Jesus right there, but he "walked away right through the crowd." Those Israelites had an idea that their savior was only for them. They were a bit close-minded. They said, essentially, "Jesus, if you are the savior of Israel, then just save Israel! Why go elsewhere?" This made me think a bit. Do I treat different members of society differently? Do I present Jesus as savior to only a select group of people, or is it to all peoples? What hit me was that, really, I'm intellectually snobbish. I would love to present Jesus as savior to you only if you can understand what I'm saying. If you can't then I'll go elsewhere. My lack of concern for the mentally handicapped or even just regular intellectually handicapped people made my stomach drop. My snobbishness overcame me. I thought through how many times I've failed to help or even talk to people because they didn't look very intelligent. Sheesh my sin overcomes me! Praise the Lord He is gracious to me and will work me through this issue. Praise Him He has brought this bias and disconcern to my attention and now I can repent. Praise Him that he never witholds His love and care for me, and that He is dedicated to renewing and strengthening my character!
I guess I'm writing this to you because of your job. You do an awesome work caring for those that apparently do not draw my concern naturally. You do the work of Christ in their lives showing them love and grace and helping them grow. I appreciate that a ton more after my time in the Bible this afternoon. Thank you. God is honored.