Reverse the Curse V – The Ministry of Jesus (Luke)

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21b).

The mission of Jesus is clearly articulated.  His messianic (anointed) mission is to bring “good news” (gospel) to the poor, prisoners, blind, and oppressed. It is not merely a message, but actions. God in Jesus acts to redeem. It is divine grace (favor). 

It is Jubilee! What Jubilee should have meant to Israel throughout its history (though there is no evidence Israel ever practiced it) breaks into the world through the ministry of Jesus.  Jubilee–released prisoners, good news for the poor (e.g., debt release)–has arrived with the presence of the kingdom in the person of Jesus.

At the “big picture” level, this is the reversal of the curse. All that the curse means in the broken creation is reversed in the ministry of Jesus. It is his mission; it is why he was sent.  It is what he preaches and what he does!

“…the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them” (Luke 4:40).

I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent” (Luke 4:43).

These lines are so meaningful as well as programmatic in Luke’s Gospel. It is the mission of Jesus in practice; Jesus is practicing the kingdom of God. He heals the sick and declares the presence of the kingdom of God in the world.  This is is his mission.

His ministry is the “good news of the kingdom of God,” that is, that the kingdom of God has come near and when the kingdom comes near the brokenness of the world is healed.  The curse is reversed.

The “kingdom” here is not the structures and organization of an institutionalized church.  Rather, the kingdom is the reign of God in the world; when God reigns and overcomes the curse, when God reigns and destroys fallen barriers, when God reigns and overcomes diseases, demons and death, when God reigns and reconciles people groups, when God reigns and the poor and oppressed get justice.

The ministry of Jesus is a proleptic enactment of the eschaton.  In other words, the new heaven and new earth (where there is no curse) has broken into the fallen cosmos in a way that declares and promises the future. The ministry of Jesus is the presence of the future; the future breaks into the present as Jesus proclaims the good news of the kingdom and heals the sick.  The ministry of Jesus is God’s promise of a different kind of world, a future world where there is no more curse.

The “good news” (gospel) of the “kingdom of God” is not, at this point in the ministry of Jesus, the death and resurrection of Jesus.  In fact, the death and resurrection of Jesus is the means toward the end of the reality of the kingdom of God. That reality is “good news.”  It is the good news that God intends to redeem, renew, and restore his creation and community. God does this through the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus; these are means by which God inagurates, implements and consumates his reign in the world.

Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you’” (Luke 10:9).

I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven…Blessed are the eyes that see what you see” (Luke 10:18, 23b).

The Gospel of Luke calls disciples of Jesus to participate in the mission of Jesus.  Just as Jesus declared the message that the “kingdom of God is near” (which is the “good news of the kingdom”) and healed the sick (reversing the curse), his disciples follow him into the world to announce the nearness of the kingdom and to participate in curse reversal. Disciples proclaim the good news of the kingdom and heal the sick.

Healing the sick is but one instance of the presence of the kingdom.  Doctors, nurses and medical professions are instruments of the kingdom of God even when they don’t know it as they “heal the sick.”  Environmental scientists are instruments of the kingdom of God even when they don’t know it as they protect and preserve the envrionment. Educators are instruments of the kingdom of God even when they don’t know it as they dispel ignorance and equip students for responsible living within the world.  Social works are instruments of the kingdom of God even when they don’t know it as they work for social justice among the oppressed and neglected. And the list could go on….

Our vocations, as disciples of Jesus, should serve the ends of the kingdom of God. We do not pursue our careers for the sake of money, greed and power.  Rather, our vocations–whether medicine, law, education, service industries, etc.–are instruments of the kingdom of God in the world. Disciples recognize this as the good news of the kingdom even when others might not see the reign of God in what they are doing.  Disciples proclaim the reality of God in the world as they work for healing and reconciliation. 

At bottom, disciples continue the ministry of Jesus.  As instruments of the kingdom, they are a means by which God reigns in the world for peace, healing and reconciliation. Disciples participate in the mission of Jesus to reverse the curse as the kingdom of God grows and fills the earth. 

When the curse is reversed–when the poor receive good news, the blind see, the oppressed get justice, and prisoners are released–Satan falls and the creation is blessed. Satan is crushed by the heel of the kingdom of God and the creation is released from its bondage.

Disciples of Jesus who see the “big picture” know their mission is not relegated to “saving souls” and “getting people into heaven.”  The mission of Jesus is about how the kingdom of God breaks into the present to reverse the curse and renew blessing–to heal and bless all nations. Every victory now anticipates the future; every victory is a promise of the future.  Satan is falling and God is blessing his creation.



13 Responses to “Reverse the Curse V – The Ministry of Jesus (Luke)”

  1.   K. Rex Butts Says:

    If this is the ministry/mission of Jesus, why do so many churches fail to get that this should be their mission (business) as well?

    My question is not a hermenuetical inquiry, for I do not think it takes a theological degree and aquired exegetical skills to figure this out. My question is more of a rhetorical complaint. If this is Jesus’ mission then it should be the church’s mission as well. Therefore it out to guide and shape the decisions church’s make, the way they spend their energy, and so on… But that is not always the case. While I find many Christians who do wish to participate in this mission, it always seems to stall in the local church because the local church is also filled with Christians who have no desire to be a part of this mission.

    And we wonder why more and more people in North America no longer believe that Jesus is the way, truth, and life.

    Just some thoughts you provoked in me!

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  2. Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    In fact, Rex, it takes a complicated dispensational hermeneutical system–which many have learned like they learn a language growing up–to divide the ministry of Jesus from the ministry of the church (e.g., only post-Pentecost directs the mission of the church). Cultural individualism and the yearning for the afterlife have obscured the mission of Jesus as well.

    It seems, Rex, that it is more often a lack of commitment to the difficult mission of discipleship than it is perhaps our hermeneutical, cultural, etc. complications. It goes to spiritual formation.

    Thanks for the thoughts, my friend.

  3.   Carisse Says:

    Um, when you say “Disciples of Jesus who see the ‘big picture’ know their mission is relegated to ‘saving souls’ and “getting people into heaven,” don’t you mean “not relegated”?

    your editorial friend cb

  4. Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    You are exactly right, my dear friend!

    You, as well as any, know my limited proofing skills! Thanks for reading so closely and giving a heads-up. That is not a sentence I would want misunderstood. :-)

  5.   K. Rex Butts Says:

    You are right, it is an issue of discipleship more so than hermeneutics. Part of the problem is that churches have been filled with converts who converted to find salvation from their sins but not to become participants (disciples) in this new kingdom that has come in Jesus.

    -Rex

  6.   Richard constant Says:

    i found romans 15:1-21

    i am a little gun shy here.john mark if you want to fill in thats fine.

    there is so much concerning what you are saying or alluding to what you are saying i had to put it here.
    blessings

    Rom 15:1

    Rom 15:21 but even as it has been written, “They shall see, to whom nothing was announced concerning Him; and the ones that have not heard shall understand.” Isa. 52:15

  7.   clyde s. Says:

    In the “all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1) it seems like all that Jesus did got discounted somehow in our theology and all that he taught got strained. Not discounted in the sense that we were not taught that he walked on the water, healed the blind etc., but rather in the sense that it did not have much relevance to what the church should do today. What he taught was strained somewhat because Jesus died under the Law, after all! :-)

    But when the Bible is allowed to speak it is clear that the early church is Jesus in action through his church in the power of the Spirit.

    Thanks for the post. I particularly appreciate the point about “kingdom work” being part and parcel of every honorable job there is.

  8. Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Yes, Clyde, you anticipate my next post on Acts….you stole my thunder. :-)

    Richard, thanks for the reminder on Romans 15 and how it fits this theme.

  9.   Richard constant Says:

    john mark?
    The first time Moses went up the mountain there seems to have not been any curse’s injoined by the intent of Jehovah, until the people became disobedient and unfaithful and Moses was told to go back down the mountain.

    So land flowing with milk and honey became a mixed blessing.
    So so as when Jesus was coming down the road and was weeping for Jerusalem on the back of the colt.

    Jehovah always longing to do good for his people and the unbelief and idolatry of the people of God, seems to frustrate the good of God’s intent.
    Yeah?

  10.   Norris DeBerry Says:

    Thank you so much for your recent articles/blogs on “The Ministry of Jesus – Reversing the Curse.” It recent years it has been my earnest prayer that God would give me a clearer understanding of his kingdom. When God gives us a clearer vision of the “big picture,” everything changes! It’s not about “getting people into heaven.” It’s about inviting people to follow Jesus – to be on mission with Jesus! Jesus’ mission is so clear (Luke 4:18-19).

    Is seeing the “big picture” part of Paul’s prayer for disciples in Ephesus? (Ephesians 1:15-23) If so, then we need to begin praying this prayer right now!

  11. Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Richard,

    Curse existed prior to Israel and Mt. Sinai. The land and serpent were cursed in Genesis 3. If we understand the “no more curse” of Rev 22 as parallel with the “old things” passing away in Rev 21, then the curse includes death, mourning, and pain. This is the curse I am talking about. The curse of the Mosaic law is a more specific form of this bigger, larger curse. The curse is not limited to the Law of Moses. It is cosmic in character, inclusive of all humanity.

    John Mark

  12. Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Norris,

    I was thinking about Eph 1 or Col 1 for my “kingdom” discussion of Paul coming next week (probably). Not sure which one I will focus on, and there are other texts. but the “big picture” is part of Paul’s theology as well though he does not use kingdom language as often as the Gospels and focuses on a different angle more often (e.g., the cross).

  13.   Richard constant Says:

    You saying Ephesians 1 are you going to deal with the longest sentence in the King James Bible

    Blessings rich

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