Tasting the Kingdom 3

In the life of Jesus as he comes announcing the Kingdom of God, we find that it is not only the words that he speaks but the life that he lives that gives people a taste of the Kingdom of God.  As people interact with Jesus (and his church) they not only hear but they experience a foretaste of the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

“After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32

1. I don’t know if this is pushing it – put Jesus goes out to Levi – he does not wait for Levi to come hear his teaching, and then engage him.  Jesus is “out there” among the people.  We need to remind ourselves of that all over again – we have to get out among our communities, meeting people and being with people.  Our Christian meetings and buildings must not act as barriers or shields to the outside world.  We cannot wait for them to come to us.

2. Jesus has a command for Levi.  This is the flip side for those who are always in the community but never challenging or teaching or calling the community to follow Jesus.  Remember always that the gospel is a message that must be proclaimed.  It is a call to follow Jesus that we must declare.  Whilst the content is the gospel-word, the context is always community.

3. Jesus goes to a party.  The sinners get it right; the life of Jesus is one of inclusion, celebration and joy.  The correct response to Jesus is inclusion, inviting people into your house and your life. Of eating, drinking, laughing, sharing and celebrating together.  That is a picture of the community life of one who follows Jesus. That is a living taste of the wedding banquet of the lamb to which he calls us.

Sometimes I think that the unbelievers are right when they look at Christians and perceive that to be a Christian is to ruin all their fun.  Why is it that the word celebration is a word we (and others) seldom think of when we think of Christian or Christian community? We need to recover the party, the celebration, the joy of Christian community again.  Remember the Kingdom of Jesus in this world is to be a taste (just a tiny taste) of the wedding banquet of the lamb.

4. Jesus’ life was a scandal to the religious people.  The way of Jesus – being with, eating and drinking with, accepting SINNERS – will always be a scandal to religious people.  If we truly want to be missional we must brace ourselves for this reality.  We will offend people, we be misunderstood, we will be accused of being soft on sin.  If your framework is law or religion – you have no category to understand what it means to be missional.

5. How does Jesus answer the objections of the religious leaders?  Not by justifying his actions, e.g. “I was not drunk”, “I do not condone their behaviour” etc. No, that would be to answer them according to their framework. Rather says Jesus I have a completely different framework and so he preaches grace to them.

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Jesus’ eating and drinking with sinners is a great multi-media demonstration of what his Kingdom is all about – it is a picture of grace.

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~ by John on September 15, 2008.

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