Moishe’s Musings: Did Jesus Prey on the Vulnerable
This article is in response to requests from readers following Moishe’s homegoing, asking that we continue to include his writings from time to time. A longer version of this article originally appeared in our newsletter in March 1996.
Those who stand against the gospel often appear very concerned for the welfare of others. Some who oppose evangelizing Jews say that missionaries like Jews for Jesus “prey on the weak and vulnerable.” According to them, only the very needy or neglected respond to our message.
The Scriptures show that the person and message of Jesus certainly appealed to the disenchanted, the outcasts and those who were hopeless and helpless. But does that mean that Jesus preyed on the vulnerable, and that we who seek to win others to Him are only interested in or successful with “less than normal” people?
The idea of preying on the vulnerable is based on the assumption that ordinary people are not vulnerable. It’s a false assumption because all of us are either weak, weaker or weakest depending on our life situations.
We are all vulnerable because of the very transitory nature of life. We are vulnerable because of illnesses and the fragility of human relationships. No one is so formidable as to be victorious in all circumstances. We are weak, hence vulnerable. It takes courage to face the fact of how very weak we are.
Whatever strength, whatever power the very strongest people might wield could not lengthen their days upon the earth or force open the gates of heaven in the world to come. Jesus came because the whole human race was lost and liable to the judgment of God. The entire gospel message declares the weakness and vulnerability of all humanity and God’s grace to save us with a strong arm and an outstretched hand.
When God chose Abraham and Sarah, He did not choose the mightiest or the strongest people on the earth. He chose a man of simple faith, and He chose a couple who was barren apart from the miracle He would provide. When God chose Moses, He chose a person slow of speech, one who begged that someone else be sent to Pharaoh. Do we worship some kind of a “cosmic codependent” deity who attracts only the weak? No! We worship the Almighty who is merciful and so powerful that in Him even the weak are strong.
Some expected God’s Messiah to come to earth resplendent in the shechinah glory. They thought He would present Himself to rulers and nobles with a show of power that would command the obedience of all. But the Lord of all came first to the humble, the weak, the lame and the outcasts. He had the time and patience for children, yet He had no patience for the self-righteous who made an ostentatious display of their religion and their strength.
In the Gospels we see that not only tax collectors, prostitutes, the sick and the poor responded to Jesus. Well-educated and powerful people like Nicodemus also sought Him out. Humility is not reserved for the poor or the outcast. It’s simply a bit easier to acquire by those who have obvious reminders of their limitations. It takes a humble person to accept what God has offered through Jesus. And humility turns weakness into a kind of strength—the strength to accept God’s grace.
To say that Jesus “preyed upon the vulnerable” is not only to misunderstand the object but also to miss the point of the verb. To prey means to pursue and kill in order to devour. Jesus didn’t come to the weak to devour them but to present Himself as holy food and drink: the bread of life and the living waters.
The goodness and strength of Yeshua (Jesus) is seen in the fact that He didn’t prey on the vulnerable—He chose to be one of them! He emptied Himself to become a man, to be tested in all ways that we’re tested, to endure all pain, shame and even an ignominious death. Yet by virtue of that very weakness He showed His strength, inasmuch as even death could not gain the final victory over Him. Christ’s resurrection stands as a story of what God can do with the weak and vulnerable. It is a story of what He can do with you and with me and with all who will come to Him. In proclaiming this truth we take nothing from those who receive it. We offer them the greatest gift ever given.