Love of neighbor marked Jesus’ whole ministry. Jesus’ ministry wasn’t about staying up on the mountaintop above the cries of the dispossessed. Jesus was always in trouble for reaching out to the most despicable, dirty, and degenerate. The fact “he touched the leper” was electrifying (Matthew 8:1-4). Those who heard those four words were sent reeling. In Jesus’ day no one looked at a leper, much less considered touching one.

Jesus stuck his neck out for the prostitute, tax collector (extortionist), sinner, and terminally-ill. In today’s context, we can safely assume Jesus would stick his neck out on behalf of gays and gang members. We can also deduce that he would go out on a limb and risk his good name on behalf of death row convicts, pimps, and pushers. The revolutionary nature of Jesus’ witness is lost on most Christians today. Its scandal is misunderstood and misrepresented.

Jesus stuck his neck out repeatedly for outcasts and derelicts! This outrage led the sanctimonious priests to conspire against him. Jesus ate with sinners and balked at the purity codes of religious purists. This got his neck pressed against a wood beam by a Roman Soldier at Golgotha (Luke 23:33).