Imagine for a moment that you are a teacher and it’s play-time. Most of the boys are playing football, so there are balls flying about all over the place. One day you pick 12 (11 team and a sub) and take them aside. It’s going to be a different level of football, the game has changed. The kind of football on the playground isn’t the same as a real match. The new team need to remember 3 or 4 things to do and 3 or 4 things not to do. Not hours of lectures and theory. When Jesus picked the 12 they were a new team, a core of what God was about to do for His chosen people.
Jesus gave them clear orders of how it was going to work – four promises and four warnings. And what an upside down set it was – or maybe we should say right way up. The other day we learned God is doing something new which requires a new wineskin. Jesus is about to fulfil the Isaiah 61 prophecy he read in the synagogue in Luke 4. Good news is coming for the poor, the hungry, those who weep and those who are hated. Blessing is coming!
It’s not that there is anything virtuous about being poor or hungry, it’s just that when injustice reigns, the world needs turning the right way up with a new kingdom. Loving enemies, doing good to those who do bad to you is radical ‘world turning the right way up’ stuff.
I love how Tom Wright puts it in “Luke for Everyone”
The kingdom that Jesus preached and lived was all about a glorious, uproarious, absurd generosity. Think of the best thing you can do for the worst person and go ahead and do it. Think of what you’d really like someone to do for you and do it for them. Think of the people to whom you are tempted to be nasty and lavish generosity on them instead. These instructions have a fresh, springlike quality. They are all about new life bursting out energetically, like flowers growing through concrete and startling everyone with their colour and vigour.
It’s not a bunch of laws and rules and regulations. Jesus is illustrating, teaching and imparting a new attitude of the heart, a new lightness of the Spirit in the face of everything that the world can throw at you. And it’s all because of, and flowing out of, the fact that God is incredibly generous to us first and last.
Let’s live in the good of this in the power of the Spirit.