Luke 4:42-44

At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.”

So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea. Luke 4:42-44

Once you become an adult, there are two times a day that you are pretty much control – when you go to bed and when you get out of bed. The glimpses that the gospels give us into the spirituality of Jesus show us that these were important prayer times for him. He went off by himself either early in the morning (as in this text), or at the end of the day. Why?

Why did Jesus need time for reflection, for prayer? For the same reasons we do.

Remember the first time someone told you there was a reason why God gave you two ears and only one mouth? That if you think you know everything then you can’t, or won’t, learn anything new? That the most important aspect of a healthy relationship is open and honest communication? That if you forget who you are, and what you stand for, plenty of other voices will jump in to answer those questions for you. All of this, and much more, is why prayer matters. For Jesus, and for us.

As soon as the crowds notice that Jesus is missing they head out in search of him. Why? Because they wanted what they wanted when they wanted it. Jesus had suddenly became their lottery ticket, their quick and easy answer. Like the selfish people who hoarded toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, they didn’t want to be left out, left behind, left wanting.

But Jesus wasn’t anyone’s private property or personal lapdog. He still isn’t. He saw what they didn’t, couldn’t, refused to, see. His mission field was the entire broken creation.

You have heard the term “elevator speech” before, right? An elevator speech compresses an entire vision into a quick sound bite that can be delivered in a single ride up an elevator. You could say that Jesus’ elevator speech was ““I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.” But the bigger question is, “What does THAT mean?”

Ask many Christians today what the Christian elevator speech is and they might say something like this: “God is perfect, merciful and just. We are sinners. Jesus died to forgive us but, in order to actually receive that forgiveness, we must believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord and ask for forgiveness personally. Then Jesus forgives us. And when we die, we get to go to heaven.”

My sense is that Jesus’ personal explanation of the “good news of the kingdom of God” would be a little different. In fact, he already gave it to us. Remember these words?

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Let us pray: Dear Lord, there is something in us that wants to keep you all to ourselves, something in us that is largely blind to the real world implications of your sense of what good news means in our world and in our lives. Only you can open our eyes that we might more clearly see ourselves. Only your Spirit can do that within us. Keep working on us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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