Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Moving forward from that idea (visited in pt. 4), then, Jesus’s kingdom that he is unfolding is one that is for those who do not have confidence in their flesh. Their emptiness is portrayed in hopelessness and engulfed by the strict rules that the religious elite have burdened them with. The poor in Spirit have lost all; the land (from the Romans), the temple (somewhat to Herod and dirty Hasmonean Priests), and the Torah (yokes of extra works have enslaved them, and they are unable to maintain “spiritual approval” ). The kingdom they are living in has no place for the lowly and powerless. Jesus’s life and ministry are changing the course of who is in and who is out. The skewed balance of power and prestige are being tilted toward another direction, toward a new kingdom, and one that is attached to heaven. Once again, lest we forget Jesus’ first words after being tempted in the wilderness, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
Luke 9 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere(vs 1-6).
It is often easy to overlook what Jesus means when he says the good news, we have been so programmed into the death of Jesus, that we miss what he was suggesting when he lived. He calls the twelve together, and sends them out to proclaim the kingdom of God (vs.2), and then in verse six after their instructions, they go out proclaiming the good news. How can they be proclaiming the good news that Jesus is risen if he has not died and rose again? I believe part of the good news is in that, but Jesus sent them out proclaiming the other attached segment of the good news: that the kingdom of God is at hand. Often we translate good news through Paul, but forget to translate it through Jesus before he died. This Good news then, is about a kingdom, and one that embodies the story of the parable of the wedding banquet.
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
But they paid no attention and went off–one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’. “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”(Matthew 22:1-14).
There is much being said in this parable, and my purpose here is not to strip it apart. Though the marriage banquet is coalesced with Revelation 19, I still believe we can attain insight at the good news that the disciples were proclaiming. The invitation to the expected guests is rejected, consequently those who would normally not be invited (poor in Spirit) are. This mere image we see in this parable, is in part the life Jesus is embodying. This marriage feast in Revelation 19 , is for those who have now entered into God’s kingdom, and Jesus, a.k.a. , the bridegroom, dines and sits with questionable guests. But we know these guests have been graciously given a seat at the table, marked with the blood of the lamb. This feast and this kingdom here in Revelation are also found when we examine the life of Jesus. Let’s return to Luke 9.
In verse 27 Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” Again, not a future reference, but a present one. Again in verse 60 of the same chapter, But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” An emphatic statement, Jesus has laid the mission out, and it’s priority number one. Verse 62, Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 17:21, You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you. These references speak for themselves. I believe it is safe to say, that the kingdom of God is the good news according to Jesus, more is added to it after his death, but this is the gospel while Jesus lived. And once again to reemphasize, this is not referring to a kingdom in the future, but in the present. And the disciples were to share this good news with others, reaching out to the hungry , the poor in spirit, the meek, the persecuted, the mourners, and all those Jesus addresses in the Sermon on the Mount.
The good news is life changing, it is a hope for the present and the future (but not limited to), and the mission is a worthy task, given to the disciples and also to us. The mission: to announce God’s kingdom. What does life look like in the kingdom? That is where we will turn next…
To be continued…