Jesus rejected cultural norms to embrace people society had pushed to the margins. Among those people were the poor. The Bible is packed with verses which expound on God’s heart for the poor. Here are five occasions on which Jesus showed he cares for the impoverished.
1. The sheep and the goats
In one provocative parable, Jesus says that when he comes in all his glory and sits on his throne before all the nations, “he will separate the people one from another as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:32 NIV). The sheep are honored for caring for Jesus in his time of need.
Confused, they ask Jesus when they cared for him. His response is a powerful picture of Jesus’ profound concern for the poor: “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).
As recipients of his judgment, the goats are equally confused – when did they see the Lord and not care for him? “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:45 NIV). Jesus equated serving or neglecting the poor with serving or neglecting God.
2. Jesus preached the good news to the poor
When John the Baptist was imprisoned, he sent a message to Jesus: “Are you the Messiah, or should we be expecting someone else?” (Matthew 11:2–3).
Instead of giving him a direct answer, Jesus points to the messianic signs and wonders he has performed: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Matthew 11:4-6).
Redemption for the poor was part of God’s promise of restoration through the Messiah. It’s one of the ways they could identify him as the true Christ.