Friday, January 2, 2009

The Gospel of the kingdom 12: Hope for the Hopeless

The ancient prophet Isaiah described in poetic language what would happen when the Messiah would come in Chapter 61:1-2. When we go out into the world and bring Jesus with us we can expect our Lord to do His thing. These are the things that happen when Jesus shows up:

• Jesus brings good news and restoration to those who are poor and oppressed.
• He will set captives free.
• He will announce the coming of a year of favor and a day of the Lord’s justice which is to comfort all who mourn.

Jesus Himself used this passage to identify that He has come as Messiah (Luke 4:16-21). When the King comes and rules, those who are poor and oppressed are set free. Justice prevails. Hope returns. Healing and restoration reign.

When John was in a dark night of the soul, filled with doubt and despair about the significance of his life—the greatest life lived next to Jesus Himself (Luke 7:28)—Jesus sent word to encourage him (Luke 7:18-23). He reported, or rather described, what happens when Jesus shows up:

• The blind see.
• The lame walk.
• The lepers are cleansed.
• The deaf hear.
• The dead are raised.
• The poor hear a message of hope.

Jesus does not just overcome the bondage of sinful behavior or darkened understanding. He does not just instruct us in a better way of life. He overcomes the curse. He heals the sick, reigns with justice, rights the wrongs and brings hope back to any people who have been afflicted and oppressed. The very fabric of society itself is set back in order.

This is more than filling the seats and offering coffers of our churches. He brings more than a Christian education or set of conservative political agendas. When the Kingdom of God comes in power, every thing changes from the inside out. Nothing shy of transformation from an individual basis to a translocal and even global basis will occur. We must not become content with lesser things. Perhaps this is the greatest sin of our generation: we are happy with so little.

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