As we think about seeking justice in the world, especially as it relates to refugees, asylum seekers and other forced immigrants, we can ponder this:
“The Savior came as a kind of immigrant from heaven, across borders of divinity and time and space, to walk among humanity. Soon after his birth, his family fled as refugees. He grew up and described himself as someone without a place to lay his head.”
-Kent Annan, You Welcomed Me
In fact, when we look at Holy Scripture, we find that when we welcome those who are seeking safety, peace and dignity we are welcoming Jesus. In Jesus’ time with his disciples on the Mount of Olives, he explained to his disciples how this could be true:
“For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. Then the righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:35-41, NLT).
In this passage, Jesus made three things clear:
· when we welcome the least of these, we welcome Him
· welcoming is not a choice
· this is what God’s kingdom looks like
If we continue further in the passage of Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus ends his teaching about God’s eternal kingdom. He reveals that in the time of final judgment, He will separate sheep from goats. How does Jesus determine who are his sheep? through perfect church attendance? biggest sacrifices? having the most religious training? NO. Jesus very clearly points to this: what you did for the least, you did for me. (Matt 25:40)
This echoes the Hebrew Scripture of Micah 6:8, perfectly. In it, God reveals the true requirements for his kingdom: Justice, Mercy and walking Humbly with Him.
We can see that from days of old, God is consistent: He has always expected us to take care of those who are in need. He is so eternally consistent and concerned with the least of our brothers and sisters that he came into the world as one of these least ones
- a divine immigrant, a Jewish refugee, a man with no place to lay his head*. And so, when we welcome this kind of biblical Justice, we really do welcome Jesus.
* Annan, K. (2018). You Welcomed Me (pp. 108-109). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.