The Nazareth Manifesto
In Luke 4, we find the Nazareth Manifesto. In these words spoken by Jesus in a synagogue we see what Jesus was about then and now, what his followers are to be about today. These verses taken from Isaiah, as such, they are prophetic words of the Kingdom of God. They hint at what God has been up to since the beginning of time. Not destroying or rescuing us from this world, but perfecting this world and us in it. We should not seek to escape, but enhance our humanity.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Proclaiming good news is to share Jesus and the saving grace of His gospel with world. This is not to bash people with their sins and mistakes, but to share what God has done for them and will do. For the good news to be really good means it is for all and not just a few. What Jesus did on the cross and what He does in our life is not for our sake alone but for all and all means all.
Freedom, liberation, and recovery of sight are not just physical. We are imprisoned by our sins by all the ways we stop God’s love and grace from entering our lives. Our thinking that life is about us traps us. Life is not just about me. Others matter and what matters most is that we connect with one another. Recovery of sight is about healing, gracing, and saving now. It’s about all the ways that God enters our lives to bless us and through us bless others.
The Lord’s favor is not is about becoming religiously superior and hording it over others. It is about living in and by God’s favor that is lavished on all. As Jay Baker says in his excellent book Fall to Grace, “Grace is not about showing others what you do. It’s not even about showing God what you do. It’s about seeing God as a loving parent, and being changed by that encounter.” Our encounter with God and His favor should change us more and more into the kind of people who can live in the Kingdom guiding others in to it too.
We should do these things. Christians should be known not as judgmental, self-righteous, obnoxious dweebs, but loving serving people of God for, these things. When we learn to read the story of Jesus and see it as the story of the love of God, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves—that insight produces, again and again, a sense of astonished gratitude, which is very near the heart of authentic Christian experience. God is taking the world somewhere. He’s got plans. Apparently he’s promised to do for all of us what he did for Jesus after he died. And for the whole world too…. This God really does love the whole world and wants to make it all alive in a new way. (N.T. Wright) When we realize all God has done for us in astonished gratitude, we will begin living the kind of lives we were always meant to live.
We are to celebrate to party to rejoice for Jesus has come and shown us what it looks like when God is in Charge.
God is King!
There is no reason to fear to worry to grieve. No matter how dark how difficult how miserable this moment may be as Christians we know, proclaim, and affirm that Jesus is Lord and the good news—the really, really, really good news is that God loves us and is in charge. God is in the on-going, life-transforming, paradigm shattering process of saving, blessing, and gracing this world. We are to pray and work for this world to mirror heaven for things on earth to be as they are in heaven. We know God is in charge and life will never be the same again.