We come to the end of this week’s series on gospel with a potent passage, one dearly loved by liberation theologians and justice workers and one of which many reducers of the gospel today are fearful. Here’s my opinion on this matter: liberationists tend to reduce the gospel to this text while the traditional evangelical tends to mitigate this text. Let’s embrace it and all the other gospel texts.
Luke 4:16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 ?The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord?s favor.? 20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, ?Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.?
These verses and those that follow clarify what Jesus’ gospel is beginning to look like:
1. Jesus’ gospel is about Jesus: the “egocentric” element of this text is palpable. Jesus preaches a gospel that is a gospel about Jesus.
2. Jesus’ gospel brings justice: to the poor, to the captives, to the oppressed.
3. Jesus’ gospel brings healing to the blind and marginalized.
4. Jesus’ gospel is Jubilee-like (Lev 25; Luke 4:19a).
5. Jesus’ gospel is so stubbornly about himself that folks want to do him in (Luke 4:28-29).
6. I take this gospel about Jesus to be central to defining what kingdom gospel is: kingdom gospel is Jesus gospel. Justice gospel without Jesus is not kingdom gospel or Jesus gospel. Jesus gospel is kingdom gospel is justice gospel. Any gospel that does not have those three words — Jesus, kingdom, justice — is not a biblical gospel. We’ve seen this straight through from Psalms to Jesus.
Luke 4 shows that what happened in Nazareth was Jesus’ task: “43 But he said to them, ?I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.? 44 So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.”