Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Luke 5, 6 New Things...

Luke has established Jesus’ continuity with the past: This is the fulfillment of God’s rescue plan! But now we begin to see how very different it looks when God breaks in than we expect it to.

In 4:43, Jesus states his purpose: to tell the good news of the kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God – the reign of God, comes out of the future, breaking into the present. It is not a return to anything – it is radically new, different and surprising. We are invited to step into it now. And when we do, we are not determined by our past, but by our future in God’s new world.

Look at the stories in this chapter and how something new breaks in to people lives. Peter is the fishing expert. He knows how things work. Jesus steps in, shows him something entirely new, and invites him into it. The leper recognizes the person who has the power to change his condition. But will he, he wonders? The paralytic and his friends come hoping for something new – and get more than they expected. Levi had a new kind of life offered to him from out of the blue, unearned and unlooked for. The parable Jesus tells (5:36-39) punctuates all this change – there’s no making incremental change here, no adding on a little Jesus to what you already have. This is turning everything upside down. And some, who like things as they are, won’t like it … “the old is good” they say.

Jesus himself is the center and the heart of all this change, the bridegroom himself. The kingdom has arrived in Jesus – he is making everything new, the fulfillment of all the old stories and the long preparations (like the Sabbath 6:1-11). He puts together a new people (6:12-16, 12 apostles, 12 tribes of Israel) and gives them a new charter, (6:17-49) like God gave a charter to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy. It’s pretty crazy! “You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all!” (6:20) What????

The kingdom of God is always coming to us, every day. It is really hard to change, frightening to let go of old ways of doing things, old certainties about God or about yourself, old habits of personality that you think are just you. But I tell you what … I really, really, really don’t want to get stuck. You can get stuck at any age, but I am at an age when people very often do get stuck, give up repenting, give up turning around, embracing the kingdom that is always coming and the unexpected Jesus who is turning things upside down and inviting us into His new world. Sometimes it is only when the “old” isn’t so good that we are ready to get up and follow when the invitation comes.

So I am looking out for the invitation today.

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