January 18 | Luke 4:23-30

rubber-bands-02My how this scene changes fast. Jesus claims the fulfillment of the reading in their hearing, the text says “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth” (verse 22), and six verses later they want to throw him off a cliff. Phrases like freedom for the oppressed, liberating captives, good news to the poor sound good until they realize the implications of them. Jesus makes Messianic claims by referencing Elijah and Elisha, and then he follows it up with their healing of two outsiders; one a gentile in Sidon and one a gentile from Syria. This is to say that this releasing of the captives, this freeing of the oppressed, and this good news for the poor are not for the people the insiders want it to be for. Jesus is opening the Kingdom of God beyond borders that the Kingdom is not supposed to go beyond. He has barely begun his ministry and they already want to kill him, and it is because of the mission that he is claiming: A mission to break the Kingdom of God wide open.

When we think about the work of God, we must always remember that it is often not for “us”. Whomever “us” is, we must remember that Jesus is always moving beyond “us” and toward “them”. This is Luke’s Jesus. He is a Jesus stretching the reaches of God’s kingdom as far as they can go. And it’s uncomfortable. It’s like a rubber band being stretched to the point where you’re certain it’s going to snap. But it doesn’t. It just keeps stretching.

When we look at our current world and context, I think it’s appropriate to call out Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose work and life we remember today, and who called us to keep stretching that rubber band. He made people uncomfortable. He worked tirelessly and died sacrificially for the cause of equality of all humans. The Kingdom of God is an uncomfortable kingdom, but it is beautiful. It is where our borders and boundaries break down and we really do function as one equal humanity, but that does not come without a certain tension and a disruption of what makes us feel comfortable and secure. As we step into the life of Christ in Luke, we must step into the uncomfortable places- the places that stretch us. Where is that place for you?

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