In Luke’s Gospel, in 4: 4-18, we begin with hearing Jesus reading from the scroll of Isaiah in Nazareth, in which we learn of why Jesus was sent here and what he was planning to do. This is the key moment in the Gospel in which we learn about who the outcasts are in Jesus’ opinion.
At first, Jesus started off by saying “…to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” which was just another way of saying the Jubilee Year. However, instead of Jesus actually being here to free the slaves and return the property like many Jews thought; he actually came here to good news to the poor, proclaim release for the prisoners, recover the sight of the blind and to let the broken victims go free.
These people are who Jesus’ considers that needs the most help, and in his ministries and missions, these people are the ones he talks about and helps all the time whether he goes to a city or town, which is shown on many occasions.
One of the attitudes we discover about Jesus regarding the outcasts is that he views the outcasts to still be part of the society that Jesus lives in, and he proves this to the other people by associating himself with them, on many occasions no matter what people thought of them or what sins they could of committed, as Jesus was here to help them.
The most noticeable example out of these parables is in The Calling of Levi (5: 27-32), in which a Tax collector called Levi, who at the time was considered an outcast because the population regarded Tax collectors as evil, was asked by Jesus to “follow him”, before Levi held a banquet for Jesus.
Now, it was Pharisee’s and Scribes who questioned what Jesus was doing, which is when we discover one of Jesus’ attitudes; it isn’t the good people that need his help, but actually the outcasts that need his help, as he firstly says “It is not the healthy that need a doctor; but the sick,” before he says “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” This just confirms what Jesus said at Nazareth, that he is here to help the outcasts, but he is also here to clear the sins of the ones that need it, which in this parable is Levi, as people considered him to be committing sin by being a tax collector. Tannehill agrees with what Jesus says in this parable, as he says that the banquet wasn’t just an ordinary meal, but one of celebration, which in Tannehill’s eyes, was a celebration of Levi’s sins being banished for him confirming to Jesus that he was a sinner but still had great faith in God. Also, Caird rightfully points out as well that Jesus was doing what he was sent here to do: spend time with those who needed him or God the most, which in a lot a cases was the sinners.
Another Example of Jesus accepting the outcasts would be Zacchaeus (19:1-10), where Zacchaeus was also a Tax collector, and when Jesus was passing through Jericho, Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, which showed his faith towards him, where Jesus then said he would be staying around his house, to the joy of Zacchaeus. However, once again, many people were sceptical with what Jesus was saying, with the quote many of them said was “Guest of a sinner?!!” which shows how Zacchaeus was viewed at the time; However, we once again see that Jesus is here to help the outcasts, as he says “For the son of man has come to seek and to save the lost.” which is a reference to those who have sinned and now have nothing at all, which is what Zac confirms to everyone by saying what he was going to do, all in the name of God.
In addition, the main outcasts that were refused to be any part of society were Lepers as they were deemed impure, so they were banished away from towns, yet Jesus still goes out and associates himself with them regardless of their condition, as even though he doesn’t touch them he still heals them no matter what.
Another attitude we see that Jesus has with the outcasts is that they have more faith to God and himself compared to those who regard them selves as Pious and faithful to God; this shows that the outcasts would do anything for God/Jesus, which Jesus greatly respects.
A good example of this is The Parable of The Good Samaritan (10:29-37), in which Jesus tells a lawyer about how a innocent man was robbed and beaten whilst travelling to Jericho, and whilst he was on the floor bleeding, a Priest and a Levite who were supposedly very pious, passed along the same road, but just ignored the man and carried on without a second thought. However, a Samaritan passed along the road as well. Moreover, he stopped and helped the man before taking him to an inn to recover.
At the time, Samaritans were also regarded as outcasts as well, so the point Jesus was trying to make was that the Samaritan showed the most faith by helping the traveller, whilst the other two refused to help as they didn’t know whether the man was alive or dead, which would of made them impure, but this wasn’t the best of claims as according to the Mishnah, they would have been allowed to help the person, according to Caird. What is interesting to note is that Tannehill says that without the Samaritan in the story, it wouldn’t as important, but with him being there, it shows that he doesn’t care who the man could be, as for all we know it could be a Jew, he wanted to help him, which shows that amount of faith he has and also confirms Jesus’ attitudes.
Another way of showing this attitude by Jesus is of the Immoral Woman (7: 36-50) who was a prostitute, so the community saw her as a sinner, making her an outcast. However, when she comes up to Jesus and cleans his feet with her tears and dries them with her hair, he doesn’t care what role she is, because she has shown the most faith to him, and Jesus rightfully says “…You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.” In which he compares the Levite’s to the woman, with him basically saying that she shows more faith to Jesus than they do to him.
* Jesus’ attitude is that salvation is universal but dependant on those who show repentance, faith and act
Also in Luke’s Gospel, another attitude of Jesus that is highlighted is that he feels even though salvation is universal, it depends on those who show repentance, faith and those who also act as well.
A key example that shows this is the Healing of the Paralytic in (5:17-20), where the people carrying then man showed the most faith out of everyone in the crowd, because they could of easily have waited until the crowds had parted, but their faith in getting the man to Jesus was so much that they went to extraordinary measures to see Jesus, which included going through a roof in order to drop the man to Jesus. Jesus saw the faith in these men, and said to them that their sin has had been forgiven because they showed faith, but also acted as well. According to Tannehill, by these people showing their ‘faith’, Tannehill suggests that it is not a confession to Jesus/God, but actually meaning in trusting in Jesus and God instead.
Another example is also the Parable of the Good Samaritan, because as the Samaritan was the only one to stop and help the injured man in the road, he showed that any sin’s that he had were forgiven by God because he stopped off to act and help the man into recovery, which showed his faith in helping his ‘neighbour’ that was in need.
Finally, the last example that shows this attitude in the Parable of The Lost sheep 15:7, where Jesus “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents that over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance”, which Jesus says that if one person alone who has sinned can repent their sins, Tannehill says that Heaven would be more happy for them, compared to those who live a righteous life overall and not repent.
* Jesus’ attitudes is that their place in Society should be restored with healing
Firstly, an example that keeps popping up from time to time is the phrase “Your faith has saved you.”
In addition, the Healing of the Paralytic is another example of Jesus’ allowing the outcasts to have their places back in society be restored, as it says “when he saw their faith….your sins are forgiven you” as Jesus says, according to Tannehill, that it is not him that’s heals the man and his friends sins, but it is their faith which does this for them instead; so if they are now ‘pure’ according to Mosaic Law, it allows then to be part of society again.
Finally, the last example which shows this attitude is in the Healing of the leper, in which the leper in question tells Jesus he can heal him if he chooses, which shows that the leper has faith in Jesus’, but he doesn’t want him to just heal him as according to Tannehill, excluded from society and ritually unclean, but to heal him if Jesus wanted to., Jesus replies 5:13 “I do choose. Be made clean.” This shows that Jesus is willing. What is interesting to note is that when Jesus tells the leper to go show himself to the priest, he is hinting at the amount of exclusion there is at the time and that it is a major problem.
To what extent do these attitudes fit in with Judaism? (9)
In the way Jesus treats the outcasts in Luke’s Gospels, we can learn multiple things about how these attitudes would have fitted in with Judaism, with some of them being good, but some of them being bad as well.
Firstly, when he was performing the healing of the outcasts that were ill, he tried to stick to Jewish tradition by telling the ones that had once been healed, to go to the priests in the area, as at the time, if an outcast had recovered or had been healed, he/she would have to go to the priest in the area in order for them to be reinstated back into the area; as only priests had the power to allow an outcast back into civilisation, so he was following the law that was in place at the moment. An example of this would be in the Healing of the 10 Lepers in Luke 17: 11-19, where after Jesus heals the lepers, he says “‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ and as they went, they were made clean.” However, some people were angered and outraged when Jesus performed these healings because first of all, he didn’t heal via the proper channels, which was by going to a priest who would then pray to God, asking for forgiveness for the person that was ill. Jesus ignored all of this and just healed the person on the spot there and then with the power of God. This made people angry as they felt the power of healing was reserved for God alone, so they viewed Jesus’ claims as blasphemy to the society and God.
Another attitude that fitted in at the time was the Year of the Jubilee, which was every 50 years someone, according to Tannehill, and allows property to be reverted back to its original owners and servants would be released. So naturally, when the Jews at the time heard that Jesus had come along to change things, they naturally thought that he was the “messiah” that would bring along this freedom. However, even though Jesus was the messiah, he actually was not here for the Year of the Jubilee, but actually here to help the outcast, as he says in Luke 4:14-23. This caused the Jews to be upset as they did not understand why Jesus was doing this at all, so they naturally claimed that Jesus was being blasphemous.
Also, another attitude which raised some anger at the time was ritual cleanliness; as people who had skin diseases, bleeding or had touched the dead were considered to unclean, and therefore an outcast as well. The main issue, which raised the anger was that when Jesus healed the outcast, they had many diseases on them such as leprosy, but he regardless went on and touched them. Jews considered that if someone was to be healed, some rituals had to take place, but Jesus disregarded them, such as making sure that the ill person was pure as well as the priest or doctor, and went on and healed them, as he just simply touched them, which showed he wasn’t afraid to make himself unclean.
In addition, one of the main attitudes at the time was considering if Jesus was being blasphemous. At the time, many Priests considered Jesus to be blasphemous as he went around disobeying many of the rules by healing the outcasts or forgiving their sins, because he is simply using he powers of God, as in their eyes he is being blasphemous, as many of them said “who is this that can forgive sins?” or in fact question what Jesus had done.
However, what is interesting to note is that while the priests consider Jesus to be blasphemous, others actually look at him and consider him to be God due to what he has done and the powers he has. Jesus actually tells people that question him that he has the right to do these things, as in Healing of the paralytic 5:24; Jesus says, “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Which tells those who question him he has the right.
Overall, we see that even though some of the attitudes fit in with Judaism, the majority of them don’t as they reject or make fun of what the Jew’s believe in, even going as far as criticising them and making fun of them as well. However, Jesus does not do this on purpose, but he just does this in order to get his point across to everyone.