In its context in first century Israel, Jesus’ message of the coming reign of God must have been heard as a radical and subversive slogan. People hoped for a renewal of God’s rule; Jesus seemed to be proclaiming that this was happening around himself – and therefore that neither the Roman Emperor, Caesar, nor King Herod, the local ruler, was really king. Jesus called men and women to a renewed way of living as God’s people in the world, to what the New Testament scholar N.T. Wright has called an “utterly risky way” of being a community of disciples.1. Here are some of its features:
– It would bring jubilee – the ‘year of the Lord’s favour’ (Luke 4, quoting Isa. 61, which itself referred back to Lev. 25 – which you read earlier).
– It meant celebration, in which all and sundry including the most disreputable were welcome to participate (Luke 5).
– It called for infinite mutual forgiveness (Luke 6.37, 11.4).
– Central to it was love of God and love of neighbour (Luke 10.25f).
– No-one was forced into it and anyone could walk away (as the rich young man did) (Luke 18.18f).
– Right living would come from repentance and faith in God power, as this was manifest in Jesus’ ministry (Mark 1.15; Luke 7).
These are just a few of the features of the way of living to which Jesus called people. It is very likely that your list included other points that are just as significant as those above.
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N.T. Wright, <em>The Challenge of Jesus</em> (SPCK, 2000), 26 ↩