Jesus had favourites.


As a parent of four, I’m not supposed to have a favourite child. Countless adults are still suffering the pain of knowing their brother or sister was “the favourite one”. The truth is, on a given day, any one of my four kids is probably my favourite of the bunch. They take it in turns. Sometimes it’s the best-behaved. Sometimes it’s the worst-behaved. Some days, one needs a lot more loving than another. Some days, one gives more love than the others. I once heard a speaker say “it’s ok to have favourites – but every one of your children should grow up believing he or she is the favourite.” I loved that. It’s a piece of advice I try to live by.

But when I read the Bible, it becomes really apparent that Jesus had favourites. And he didn’t try to hide it. In fact, he used every opportunity to make it obvious to onlookers where he placed his value. Read through the gospel of Luke some time and ask yourself who Jesus pays the most attention to? Spends the most time with? Seems to like the most?

The lonely. The hurting. The sick. The needy. The downtrodden. The ostracised. The neglected. The unheard. The disempowered. The outsiders. The despised. The sinners. These were Jesus’ favourites. He even explicitly said it; “the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”

If we are Jesus’ followers, we will walk in his ways. If we are his family, we will model his values. But when I look at our model for church, I see the opposite mindset. Most churches lift up the clean-cut, well-behaved, highly moral, over-educated, cleverly spoken, physically attractive, gifted and talented – and place them on a stage as an aspirational role model. The limelight is on “the greatest of these”, where Jesus asked us to place it on “the least of these.”

The church is most powerful when she lifts up the weak, places honour on the dishonoured, gives a voice to the voiceless, meets the needs of the needy and loves the unlovable. Let’s remember who Jesus’ favourites are, and make them our favourites too.

8 thoughts on “Jesus had favourites.

  1. Yeah, this is a great post and all, and yes, God loves the “least” and pushes us toward the “least”… And it’s a wonderful reminder… If we’re not moving toward the least then we may not be moving with Jesus… I’m sure it’s all well and good…

    But, I just can’t get past the fact that you misspelled the word “favorites” in your title.


    • Oh Alan, I tried, I really did. For your sake, I went through my blog before I posted it and changed every one to “favorite”. But my spell-check got angry and put red wriggly lines under every Americanization. And it looked – well – ugly. So I changed them all back and pressed publish and hoped, against hope, that you wouldn’t mind.

      I was wrong. I’ll try harder next time. I’ve already let a few “neighbors” and “centers” slip in to my posts and comments, to keep you lot happy. Compromising my principles for the sake of the gospel.

      – Kathleen

  2. As always I appreciate your heart for the broken and hurting. As much as we need to reach out to the down and outers we must also not neglect the up and outers. I don’t like classifying or labeling people but for lack of better terms I wanted to identify that Jesus also pursued those with means based on his love and compassion for all people irregardless of their socioeconomic level.

    I do understand your post as you are addressing the tendency within the church to elevate the attractive, popular or squeaky clean… and I agree with you. Just wanted to present another angle. Blessings!

    • Yes, yes, yes!!! I love the story of Zaccheus – one of the best illustrations that Jesus’ favourites include the very rich and successful. But “God is near to the brokenhearted”. You don’t have to look far to find pain, loneliness and despair in all socioeconomic levels!

      It was the “religious”, self-sufficient and arrogant who drew Jesus’ anger and irritation. Even then, he had compassion and love for them – like the rich young ruler, who couldn’t bring himself to abandon his wealth and follow Jesus.

      I totally agree with your comment “we must not neglect the up and outers”. I live in one of the more expensive suburbs of one of the most expensive cities in the world. Most of my neighbours are extremely affluent. But their hearts are wounded, and hurting, and they are in need of Jesus’ love and compassion. They are Jesus’ favourites too!

      – Kathleen

    • That works as long as we’re prepared to be as challenging to them as Jesus was. You know, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle…”, ” sell what you have, give to the poor, come follow me” etc.

      • Thanks Simon. There is certainly a need to challenge some people, as Jesus did – most particularly those who are self-sufficient in their religious pursuit of God, like the rich young ruler and the Pharisees. But Jesus didn’t go out of his way to rebuke all “rich” people, just those who trusted in their wealth rather than seeking Him. In fact, he publicly endorsed Zaccheus, rather than directly confronting him. He cut through to the heart of Zaccheus’ neediness – his deep need to be accepted by his community as a son of Abraham. He embraced this outcast, rejected man in front of the crowds, despite his ill-gotten wealth and sinful lifestyle of greed and corruption.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *