What Sort of People Do We Love and Hate (Epiphany 3)

Rev. Eric Brown

So, what sort of people do you fear and hate? Seriously! If you close your eyes and think of a “bad guy”, what sort of prejudiced thoughts float to the foreground? It's just one of the things we sinful folks do: categorize and vilify people. Sin rears its ugly head once again.

For a Jew back in Jesus' day, there were several “types” of people whom were feared and hated. The main ones would be Romans, Samaritans, and lepers. In Matthew 8:1-13, we see two of them. They are iconic representations of fear and hate: a leper and a centurion. One was an emblem of a dread disease that would cut you off from community and family, the other was a tool of Roman oppression and violence. Things to fear, things to hate.

And yet, there is Christ Jesus. He doesn't just run off in hatred. Instead, He helps both sorts of people. He heals the leper (who had no business in the world coming up to Him) and sends him out. He heals the centurion after marveling at his faith. Jesus doesn't view them as enemies to be squashed or fled from—just folks who are desperate for Him.

Two great and simple lessons flow from this. First, the people your sinful flesh wants to hate and fear are just folks whom Christ loves and died for. Really, they are. It's good to remember that because it will shape the way we view them. Second, even on those days when you are convinced that you are hated and feared, when the weight of your sin has smacked you right upside the head, remember that you, too are loved and cared for by God. His forgiveness remains for you, and He never hates His baptized child.

Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois.

Created: January 20th, 2017