Jesus the Refugee

 

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Jesus was a political refugee, an outsider. He was born in the backwoods corner of a large and brutal empire. Even within his own country he was denied citizenship and the basic legal rights that come with it. During the first years of his life, his parents fled with him to a foreign country, escaping political repression in their homeland (Matt. 2:13). During his ministry he consistently sided with outcasts, whether they were women, foreigners, tax-collectors, or adulterers. He was killed for political reasons, for crimes against the empire.

Jesus the Outsider
Besides Jesus' human status as a minority within a large empire, he was also a spiritual outsider. As the Son of God, his ultimate cultural allegiance was to God's self, and not to this world. This is why John tells us that "he came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him" (John 1:11). Not only was Jesus an immigrant, but he refused to assimilate.

Matthew 25
Jesus also identified himself spiritually with the outsiders of today. In Matthew 25 he claimed that anyone who showed mercy to those in need was somehow showing it to him. One of those verses reads: "I was a stranger, and you invited me in." (Matt. 25:35)

The theme of these verses is need and vulnerability. When Jesus identifies himself with strangers, he is not talking about middle-class, majority-culture people who speak the same language as we do but happen to be new to the area. He is talking about those without family, without resources, without a familiar culture or community to sustain them. As Christians, we should be reaching out to immigrants in our community, supplying their needs, whether they are physical, spiritual, or emotional. If we do not, we will not be able to say that we truly know Christ.

 

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