Sometimes people say that Christian is for middle-class North Americans. Or they say it is okay for others but they are not interested. I’ve heard also, “I don’t need that.” Luke’s Gospel has several passages that challenge those ideas.
After Jesus was born, an angel appeared to shepherds in the night. They were terrified, but the angel said:
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (Luke 2:10, italics mine)
This is significant at a cultural level because these shepherds were likely near the bottom of the ladder. They were often poor and uneducated, not what most would consider worthy of being the first to hear that the Messiah had arrived.
When Jesus was only a few days old, Mary and Joseph took Him to the temple. There a righteous and devout man named Simeon had waited for the Christ. He saw Jesus, took the baby in his arms and said:
My eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30–32)
Considerably up the social ladder, this religious Jewish man recognized that Jesus was for both Gentiles and Jews.
Later, when Jesus had grown to manhood, John the Baptist told the people that the Messiah had come. He quoted the Old Testament showing how the gospel is for everyone:
As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” (Luke 3:4–6)
Simeon and Jesus knew this passage. While Jesus focused His ministry on the Jews, He did not ignore the Gentiles or even the Samaritans who were also despised by the Jews: “But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where (Jesus) was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.” (Luke 10:33)
Why did He do that? It was to fulfill His mission. As Luke said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
Near the end of Luke’s account, he quotes Jesus who made it plain that His message of salvation is for all people:
Jesus said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:46–47)
When I hear others accuse Christianity of being an exclusive religion, they often add that they had a bad experience with a group of professed believers with the attitude of “us four, no more, shut the door.” This should not be. Jesus said that He came because “God so loved the world” and the NT repeatedly offers the wonder of forgiveness and eternal life to “whosoever will may come.” This makes me wonder if the problem is not with the message but the messengers.
It can also be a problem for those who hear the message and resist it with, “I will not have this man rule over me.” I know that my sin problem is just that. At times, I want to run my own life and this puts me outside the will of God. But that should not be either. Jesus came and died for all. All are invited into His family, His kingdom — rich and poor, without name or famous, intelligent or not so, large or small, young or old, people from every walk of life, every category, every nation, clan, tribe, race or religion.
Lord Jesus, You died for everyone. You offer redemption and Your very self to those who will receive You. What more could You do? Yet I know I need the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit to see myself the way You see me. Without You, I am a self-sufficient sinner. If You had not done a work of grace in my life, I would be resistant and blind to the glory of salvation that meets the deepest need of my soul. Grant that amazing grace as Your Spirit works in the hearts of those who have yet to discover the wonder of You.