Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jesus' treatment of the poor and the outcast

A number of distinctive narratives in the Gospel of Luke points to the compassionate treatment by Jesus to special groups of people. Firstly, Luke puts an emphasis of Jesus’ ministry to the women. The word “women” occurs about 43 times in the Gospel of Luke as compared to the 49 times in the gospels of Matthew and Mark combined.  Jesus’ special treatment to the women of His times is all the more significant when the cultural context at that time is taken into consideration. Women during Jesus’ days were treated poorly by both the Jewish and Roman world.  They could not receive an education and they could not have a say in their marriage. Furthermore, they were limited to only a special court in the temple. It is considered a shame for Jewish men to talk to a woman in public. If he did, it was considered a shame.

But in the Gospel of Luke, it is noted that Luke gave a lengthy narrative on the character of Mary, Jesus’ mother. It is interesting to note that Elizabeth and Mary were the first to receive the news of the coming Messiah from the angel. Other women mentioned in the Gospel of Luke include Anna the prophetess (2:36-38), the company of women that traveled among Jesus’ disciples (8:2-3), the women who mourned his execution (23:27-28) and the women who were present at the cross and the tomb (23:55-56; 24:1-11).

Besides, Jesus’ treatment on children is also featured prominently in the Gospel of Luke. Whereas Mark omits the birth and growing up period of Jesus, Luke devotes three chapters to this period of Jesus’ life. Three times Luke notes that Jesus performed a miracle on an only child (7:12; 8:42; 9:38).

Finally Jesus also appears to defend the poor and the oppressed. Seven or eight of His parables are concerned with the poor (7:41, 43; 11:5-8; 12:13-21; 15:8-10; 16:1-13; 16:19-31; 18:1-18). Although Luke himself belonged to the upper middle class, he associated voluntarily with the poor and this gospel is a testimony to that.

Tenney, Merrill C., and Walter M. Dunnett. New Testament Survey. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1985.

Jesus and the War on Women by Frank Viola. In: Patheos Blog. Available at URL:  Accessed 28 June 2014.

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