Why did Jesus connect so well with people that would normally have little or nothing to do with religion? I understand why the religious leaders resisted him. He was a threat to their power within the culture they had created over centuries. People almost always react – sometimes violently – when they feel their power is threatened.
But what about those who were called “sinners”, “tax collectors”, “pagans”? Jesus spent a large amount of time with them and they seemed to enjoy it. He ate with them. He talked with them. He healed them. He protected them. What made the difference
These were people who were marginalized, criticized, judged, and attacked within the first century Jewish culture. When this happened, like today, it would have been easy to let those life experiences define who they were. And then they would live as though that is all they would ever be, living a life without hope.
The synagogue rulers saw a cripple – Jesus says, “And ought not this daughter of Abraham who Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” He saw who she really was – a member of God’s chosen people, called by God to reflect his glory. She was being held hostage by Satan, and Jesus set her free. When people experienced Jesus, they experienced being treated as what God made them to be. And they responded.
Jesus Sees Us
Many of us come out of environments where what we have been told about ourselves is not what God sees. We address this at Mokahum, understanding that all of us need to either learn or be reminded of what God tells us about ourselves in the Bible.
Our very first lesson in our coursework is simple: God created you in His image and he loves you. We explore what it means to be created in the image of God and to be loved by the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. And it is exhilarating to watch the life change take place as people begin to understand who they are in Christ.
We See Others
One of the greatest gifts we can give others is to see them as Jesus sees them. Many times we focus on other’s sins. This is what the Pharisees did. Jesus went beyond their sins and saw their souls, a hazy and warped reflection of his Father, but a reflection nonetheless.
And as Jesus treated them as a reflection of the Father, he calls us to do the same.
One of our goals at Mokahum Discipleship Ministry is to do our best to make sure that every student experiences what it is like to be created in the image of God and to be loved by God.