Have you ever noticed that Jesus was usually very sensitive and compassionate with the “outsiders” – Fringe people who were not part of the established culture – People like the woman at the well and the woman who asked for prayer for her daughter’s demonic state. There was even a centurion who needed help and got it.
These were people that the religious establishment neither knew nor cared about. They were outsiders, pariahs of the common culture of the day – Yet Jesus shows great interest and care when dealing with them.
But then there were the “insiders”. The religions group who whenever they intersected with Jesus, the sparks flew. His disposition was entirely different when dealing with the “insiders” of the religious community than the “outsiders”.
An Insider is a person who is on the inside of something looking out at the world with cool detachment. They are like the Wall Street Trader with a smug look on his face because he has the scoop on what’s going on. They appear to have it together. They get it. They have it figured out.
These “Insiders” Jesus constantly confronted were known by a few things:
A general lack of compassion for the poor, or if there was compassion, it took on a sterile form.
A judgmental attitude. They saw life as “us and them” They might even have had their own version in Jesus’ day of “ Why can’t they just get a job?”.
They were also known for an unspoken belief that they have it together. Whenever the Pharisees approached Jesus, it was always from a point of superiority. They came as those who possessed secret knowledge. There was never a “help me to understand” moment.
One more thing that the “Insider” was known for was that they did the right thing out of moral righteousness. What Jesus often attacked in the Insider was their “dead works” approach to righteousness or holiness. He once called them whitewashed sepulchers.
Why are God’s reactions so reversed with the insider versus the outsider?
The Bible says that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
There is something about humility, brokenness, and lowliness that attract God and something about pride and smugness that repels Him.
The longer a person walks with Christ, the easier it is to become an Insider and see the world through stained glass eyes. We can become like the prodigal son’s brother who was not at all quick to receive his brother back into the fold, but demanded with resentment, “Where’s my fatted calf?”
I don’t know about anybody else, but I believe we are all outsiders until Jesus touches us and makes us gracious Insiders. A real Insider knows that he is actually an Outsider given access because of the Cross – Like the poor publican who prayed, “Have mercy on me a poor sinner”. He saw himself not inflated like the man who prayed before him, but as an outsider who has been invited in.