Caring for Others Along the Road (Easter Saturday)

Title: Caring for Others Along the Road
Series: Walking the Road of Easter (Misc. Devotional)
Scripture: Luke 23:50-56
Theme(s): Repentance, Compassion, Caring, Stepping Out

After the darkest moment in human history, we find a short telling of a man who was faced with an opportunity to act. Joseph of Arimathea is described by scripture as a secret follower of Jesus (John 19:38) and a member of the Jewish high council (most likely the Sanhedrin). These two descriptors of Joseph would definitely have caused him some tension, especially as they related to the treatment and death of Christ. We are also told in Luke 23:50 that Joseph was a good and righteous man, but John 19:38 tells us that he feared the Jewish leaders. We see a division in the person of Joseph. He knew what to do and how to do it, but something was holding him back. His fear of the Jewish leaders was holding back his full commitment to the cause of Jesus. And maybe we can let him slide for fearing the Jewish leaders. Even though the Jewish leaders did not have the authority to put Jesus to death (John 18:31), they still managed to manipulate Pilate and Herod into doing it. If they could do that to Jesus, imagine what they could do to Joseph. At the very least, he would become a social outcast and lose his status in the community. These sorts of fears were holding him back from becoming the person that God intended him to be.

We have all seen it. There is a homeless man or woman on the street making their request for money or food. How many times have we walked around or driven past them? Have many times have we not stopped and talked with them? Let’s make it even more personal. How many times have we known that someone is going through something but we just don’t want to get involved? We rationalize it. “It’s none of my business.” “I have my own problems.” “They got themselves in this mess, they can get themselves out of it.” “What would people say if they saw me sitting with that person at lunch?” From physical to social issues, we are surrounded by people who just need a touch, a comforting reminder—some care along the road.

The power of God and the witness of Jesus Christ changed the heart and mind of Joseph of Arimathea. It is one thing to say that you are a follower of Christ. It is yet another to actually be a follower of Christ. Joseph risked everything he had and everything that he would ever be when he stepped up to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. You can almost imagine the stares of the other leaders, Roman and Jewish, as one of their own steps forward. He steps out of secrecy and into reality. He is stepping out of the shallow end of the pool into where it is deep. He is stepping out of being an acquaintance and into a relationship with Jesus.

Caring for others along the way will mean that you have to take risks. Like Joseph, you may have to risk your social standing, your popularity, some friendships, a new position, or possibly even your job. It will cost you something. Joseph of Arimathea put Jesus in his own tomb—a tomb meant for himself or one of his family members. This was a personal expense to him with no chance of reimbursement. Jesus taught us in Luke 9:24 that “if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” We must be like Joseph of Arimathea. We need to throw caution to the wind and show compassion to other travelers along the way, especially the ones that no one else will help. When faced with a crisis of faith, we must continue “doing the most good” for everyone around us.

Oh, How He Loves

Mark 1:40-45 NLT

“Everyone needs compassion, a love that never fails.”

Graphic from

We live in a world where there are hurting people everywhere. Failed relationships, death, the economy, and loss of self cause people, including ourselves, to feel disconnected and in pain. We have lost faith with our communities. We have lost faith in our government and the officials that run it. We have lost faith with our families and our social circles. Unfortunately, we have even lost faith with the church and our spiritual foundations. Where do we turn?

How many of us have more friends on Facebook that in real life? How many of us have phone numbers for people we don’t really know? Do we still send cards or letters to people we have not seen face-to-face in many years? Why do we text rather than call? We claim efficiency and progress. We tell ourselves that we can communicate more information to more people even more quickly. We are quickly becoming a society of digital hermits and paranoid recluses. We are scared to touch. We are scared to care. We do not choose to love beyond what we know. It is easy to love something or someone you know or that loves you back. It is harder to love what no one else loves.

Do we love enough? Are we caring enough? Are we taking the time to get to know our fellow man? Do we still know our neighbors like we used to? Or, are we more concerned about what is happening in our own world? Are we more concerned about what people might say if they saw us spending time with “those” kind of people? Look at how far, we Christians, we believers, have fallen. We used to be “those” people, but God still loved us.
We need to learn how to reconnect and re-engage with this world and it’s people. We need to spend less time determining who has what or who has more. We need to spend time figuring how to get people what they need. We need to love, need to learn, need to lead. The church, us, we, are in a unique position in today’s world to love the unlovable, to care for the “un-careable”, to befriend the friendless, to bind up the broken-hearted, and to set the captives free (Isaiah 61:1).

Our story in today’s Word for us addresses that very issue. In Mark 1:40-45, Jesus is preparing to continue traveling and ministering to people. He is packing to leave and a man comes and kneels before Him. We are told in verse 1 that he has leprosy. Leprosy then, and still today, is more than a disease. It is a social condition. At the time of this story, if someone had leprosy, they would be required to stay away from people. If someone were to get near them, they had to call out, “Unclean!” People avoided them. Families disowned them. Society did not have time for them. They did not have a place for them. They were exiled to colonies filled with other people with leprosy. They were exiled there to wait to die. There was no reacceptance, no chance of parole, no pardon. They were cut off from the world and forgotten about. This man who knelt before Jesus could have been related to one of his close followers. Everyone probably knew him and his family. But, in their eyes, he was less than human. The government could do nothing for them. Sadly, the priests of the day avoided them for fear of becoming unclean themselves. They were not necessarily concerned with contracting the disease. They were concerned that it would make them spiritually unclean. It would hurt their standing at temple. It would lower their social status. The man asked Jesus for two things that day. We make a mistake if we see them as the same thing. He asked to be healed and to be made clean. It is true that leprosy is a disease that harms the body and can cause death. But, what was different and possibly worse, the social disconnection also harmed and caused a kind of death, separation.

Jesus looks beyond all of that. Oh, how He loves! He loved beyond the physical. He was willing to help. He was willing to heal. He was willing to change the situation. Oh, how He loves! He was willing to reach out. He was willing to touch. He was willing to break through the social barriers. Oh, how He loves! He did what no priest would have ever done. He reached out and touched him. He touched his leprosy, his disease. He didn’t see the disease. He didn’t see the situation. He saw the person who needed love. He saw a person who needed to be touched. Oh, how He loves!

After the physical healing, Jesus tells the man to go to a priest and make the required offering. Although Jesus had removed the problem, the disease, he still knew that the man needed more. The man had asked Jesus for healing and he asked Him to make him clean. I am struck by an interesting thought. Couldn’t Jesus have removed the social stigma from the man? Didn’t His own authority exceed the authority of Moses? The answer is yes! He could have made the man clean. But, as He said many times, He did not come to destroy the Law. He came to uphold and validate it.

We need to follow Jesus’ example. We need to reach beyond how we feel about something or someone. We need to reach out from what we think is our comfort area. We need to go beyond what we know to find out where God really wants us to be. We should be willing to reach out and touch. We cannot stop when we see the “leprosy” around us. Today, “leprosy” can be dirt, poverty, old age, lack of education, social standing, political affiliation, race, physical attractiveness, or religious beliefs. We need to reach out beyond the four walls of our homes, our neighborhoods, and our churches. We have to go beyond only what we know!

Today, Jesus has taught us how to love others. We should love like He loves, and, oh, how He loves! What are we willing to do differently? Are we willing to love people who are friends do not love? Are we willing to befriend people who are not accepted by our friends and social circles? Are we willing to risk becoming socially disconnected ourselves for the sake of Christ? Can we love other like He did?

Soli Deo Gloria!