Jesus the Restorer of Kingdom Dreams

Knowing our church body, it’s tempting to dig into Numbers 33 and the significance that camping played in the developing nation of Israel. As fascinating as that might be – I’d prefer to aim at a few thoughts from the readings this week in Luke 4 – 7.

I find that Jesus’ mission, words and actions – and His effect on the people he encountered – captivate me. It is interesting to me that Jesus describes his purpose a little differently than how we might typically define it. Luke 4:18-19 records these words from Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

For much of my life I’ve reduced Jesus’ words to a spiritual sense rather than the context in which he speaks. What impact these words must have had on the poor, the prisoner, the blind, and the oppressed. I’m certain these words have spiritual implications – but as I read the chapters that follow – he really brings good news to real people suffering in poverty, injustice, disease and disability, and oppression for hundreds of years by outside polities.

The kingdom of God is Good News for marginalized people who are powerless – whose dreams are suppressed by their various circumstances. Jesus is the restorer of kingdom dreams! He restores a man from Capernaum tormented by an evil spirit. He restores Simon’s mother-in-law who is suffering from a fever – a much more life threatening condition in Jesus’ day. As a result of these acts, people are brought to him and he continues to heal, release, and proclaim his good news!

The kingdom of God is Good News for a group of fishermen. Luke 5:1-11 has great significance – it’s an amazing fishing story. It makes me wonder how I would react if Jesus went for a boat ride with me and we caught more fish than we could handle alone…I wonder if Peter and the rest considered making Jesus their business partner? Instead, Jesus calls them to come into his business – and “So they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything and followed him.” Following Jesus is counter-intuitive. Following Jesus is counter-culture. Following Jesus resists common sense. Following Jesus restores dreams and restores purpose and restores hope.

These chapters in Luke are so rich in showing the way of Jesus – the way of the disciple. What does it mean to be a Christian? Simply put – it means to follow Jesus – completely. He heals – but even more, he touches the leper. He heals – spiritually as well as physically because of the faith of friends who bring their broken friend to Jesus despite the obstacles. He restores Levi, oppressed by his own shame – and gives him a new purpose and calling.

There is so much more to Jesus – and I’m left asking, “Am I more like those he called or those who opposed him? Do I care about who he cared about?” The kingdom life is so much more than the “personal relationship” and a future oriented faith. It is our relationship with Him now that calls us into a radical way of life. It is a call to follow Jesus – to do what he does, touch who he touches, think what he thinks, act how he acts, love who and how he does, give comfort as he has…

I have so far to go. I’m so immature in my following of Jesus. I’ve not arrived…but the process is the point. I’m to follow, and in following I will be changed from the inside out. After all, “A student is not above (their) teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like (their) teacher (6:40).”

So as I read through Jesus’ proclaimed mission to the suffering and impoverished (in so many ways) and the opposition he faced by the religious leaders – I’m left to ask, “Where am I in Jesus’ story? Who am I following? Who’s my teacher?” I suppose it’s easy to see, really – “Each tree is recognized by its own fruit (6:44).” I’m so thankful that Jesus heals and restores – I, too, need the Lord’s favor!

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