It was “Dismissing Jesus: How We Evade the Way of the Cross” (2013) by Doug Jones that first started me thinking about Jubilee as both a principle and practice of gospel ministry.
As we walk through the Gospel of Luke at Christ Covenant Church I want to make sure we see that Jesus’ mission is shaped by Jubilee and that he brings Jubilee to bear on all kinds of people with his words and deeds. In Luke, Jesus not only proclaims the gospel of Jubilee, he embodies it. Jesus practiced what he preached.
A few days ago I preached from Luke 4 on the Gospel of Jubilee. In the sermon I declared,
“Jesus was not anointed by the Spirit to promote the health and wealth of white upper-middle class Americans only, but to proclaim the good news of Jubilee to the abused, broken, captive, and despised exiles on the fringes of the world. So today we proclaim the good news of Jubilee to you who are poor, broken-hearted, captive, blind, and oppressed.”
Today I reconnected with a friend. I was reading the Gospel of Luke when she showed up and asked if she could sit for a minute.
She fell apart.
She’s in a state of crisis. Marriage troubles. Money troubles. More troubles. Three boys under the age of 6. A baby on the way. She and her husband are “circumstantially” separated. His job is on the line. He and the boys are staying with his parents. She’s floating from motels to shelters (to her car). She really hopes to get that promotion they keep promising her. She just wants to get on her feet, get a place to raise the kids, and sit at peace with her husband. She’s running out of cigarettes. She feels like God is mad at her or maybe he just doesn’t like her. She’s so beat down. “I’m just so f***ing tired, Rev. And frustrated and scared.”
Oh, and she’s a young black woman.
As she spoke and cried, Jesus’ words echoed in my mind:
“Blessed are you who are poor…Woe to you who are you rich…Blessed are you who weep…Woe to you who laugh.”
In that moment, these words seemed less poetic and more prophetic, less comforting and more convicting.
Is she blessed?
Am I cursed?
Jesus was sent to her. The gospel of Jubilee is for her. All of her. Not just her soul, but her body. Not just her mind, but her heart.
“Jesus cares about us body and soul, heart and mind.”
Didn’t I just preach that in the safety and security of a fairly comfortable middle class church?! Yes!
Do I really believe it?
She needs everything God promises in the gospel of Jubilee — rest and relief, release and restoration.
How does Jubilee come to other people? How is it shared from one person to another?
According to Jesus, by obeying his commands for their good and his glory we bring Jubilee to others.
So, hear the commands of Christ (Luke 6:27-38):
Give. Bless. Pray.
Give to everyone who asks from you.
Do not demand anything back from them.
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Lend, expecting nothing in return.
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
This is what the gospel of Jubilee requires you and me to do for others.
This is the way of the cross on the way to the crown.
This is where we put up, pipe down, or peter out.
This is where we practice what we preach in order that others may participate in the party of Jubilee that Christ has prepared for them (and us).
by Rev. JMT