Love And Justice

Devotional

Our Lord goes one step further in Luke 4 by teaching that this restoration is not just for the expected, those we might say constitute the “in group.” Rather, he points out two healing, shalom-restoring miracles done by two great Old Testament prophets, Elijah and Elisha, as impacting far beyond the narrow “in house” scope of Israel to the Gentile world (the widow in Zarephath, and Naaman the Syrian). Shalom, justice, is not exclusive to those we expect it to come to. Those familiar with the story will know that the crowd, the “in crowd” we might say, did not appreciate this outward-facing perspective on the extension of the shalom of God. Indeed, they tried to throw Jesus off the town cliff for making this radical suggestion! But Jesus does not back down, escaping this crowd and proceeding in Luke’s narrative to bring shalom to the suffering, the unclean and the unexpected. Later, in Luke 7:18—23, John sends two of his disciples to Jesus, inquiring about this surprising ministry of the Messiah. Jesus replies to these messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”


Should we expect someone else, the messengers inquire? No, this is what the kingdom of God looks like as it comes to the soil of the earth. Do not expect anyone else. And do not expect a calling, a life of justice, out of accord with the very life of Jesus Christ who said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)


The Bible’s teaching on justice is much more comprehensive than simply punishing the wrongdoer. A life following Jesus will bring us to the most difficult corners of the world, ministering in deed and with his Word to those encountering the greatest suffering and marginalization. To follow Jesus in the world is to join in his story of restoring all of creation to its God-intended flourishing. Our labors following the perfect shepherd will be partial, flawed and prone to setback, sure. But the direction of the story is comprehensively forward, so let’s follow Jesus in his full work of restoration. Of justice. Of shalom.


PRAYER: Father, continue to work Your shalom, Your justice in and through my life. I’m excited to follow Jesus, joining His story of restoring all of creation to Your purpose and plan.