Ministry Resources


Author: Robert J. Young

I call you attention to Luke’s gospel as we focus on God’s plan for nobodies.

Our world is filled with nobodies. Nobody in history meets more nobodies in this world than Jesus, but a nobody who meets Jesus remains a nobody.

Jesus touches lives in unique ways. Jesus’ touch turns people around. We see his ability to touch lives in the text which begins in Luke 4:14. Jesus returns from his temptation in the power of the Spirit and touches lives. He claims from the prophecy of Isaiah that he is the one sent with healing, freedom, and good news. Consider how the gospel message changes nobodies into somebodies.

Shepherds were not considered the cream of the crop in Jesus’ day. They were the dregs of society. They were a lower class than the lower class. They were often isolated from society. The shepherds in Luke’s gospel were in the fields with the sheep. Nonetheless, they were chosen as recipients and carriers of the good news, and they willingly shared. Somebody listened, even though they were nobodies. And the mere fact that they received the news declares that nobodies can be somebodies.

Galilee was not a favorite vacation spot in the first century. Galilee, well how do you say it, had a reputation. Can anything good come out of Galilee? Yet Galilee was the home of the first disciples. Peter was from Galilee. In one sense, Peter was a nobody, a fisherman. Peter reflects some of his own self-doubts in Luke 5. Jesus’ call to Peter declares that a nobody can be a somebody.

In the first century, the sick, the lepers, the paralyzed were often rejected and ignored. The lepers were required to maintain a safe distance from society and to announce their presence. They were genuine outcasts. Yet Jesus tenderly ministers to these first-century nobodies. He treats them with respect, with compassion, with care. He treats them as though they were somebodies, because, in his eyes, they were!

Few occupations were frowned on as was the occupation of tax collection. The tax collectors were traitors, working for the occupying government. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus calls and accepts tax collectors such as Matthew (Luke 5). In a poignant parable, he says tax collectors may be more acceptable to God than Pharisees (Luke 18), and Zacchaeus the tax collector is a familiar figure to most who have studied the Bible even a little. In Jesus’ eyes, tax collectors mattered.

In Luke 6, Jesus chooses twelve apostles. They are not the polished echelon of society, in fact, most are nobodies when seen through first-century eyes. Nonetheless, Jesus demonstrates what can occur with a little band of nobodies who think they are somebodies because they follow the real Somebody!

Even foreigners were somebody to this Jewish teacher, even though they were nobodies in the eyes of the Jews. Read chapter 7 to remember how Jesus treated a Syro-Phoenician woman, and what he said about the faith of outsiders when compared to the attitude of the Jews.

Some have thought that women are demeaned in the Bible, but that is not what one sees in Luke’s gospel Not only does Jesus commend the faith of the foreign woman mentioned above (Luke 7), but Luke remembers that women were largely responsible for funding Jesus’ ministry (8:3). Let no one say that Jesus treats women as nobodies.

While Jesus expands the category of those who belong to him and are part of his family, Jesus’ mother and brothers are mentioned with respect (Luke 8). Everybody is somebody. Now, who can forget the Samaritan, pardon me, the Good Samaritan (Luke 10)?

Regardless of what opinion others might have had about Samaritans as those no-good half-breeds who aren’t really Jews, Jesus makes clear that this Samaritan is really something (excuse me, somebody!). At least, he responds with a purer heart than do those religious somebodies who are perhaps nobodies when one measures their actions.

Jesus heals lepers–there are 10 healed in Luke 17. Of course, only one returns with gratitude. Why was he grateful He was healed, of course. But also, he was again a somebody in society.

When Jesus tells a parable about a widow (Luke 18), he is exalting the needs of women. In the same chapter, he teaches that children are worthy, and he provides sight for a blind beggar, allowing him to function in society as somebody more than a dependent nobody.

You can undoubtedly think of other examples from Luke’s gospel, and certainly of more examples from other passages of Scripture, but the lesson is clear.

Because of Jesus, you are somebody. Don’t forget it!

©, 2004, Robert J. Young. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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