The Proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom
Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
It is my firm conviction that we have been detoured from the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel of the kingdom of God for almost 1700 years. In evangelical circles, we've been preaching about the gospel of Jesus, but we haven't been preaching the gospel Jesus preached! How do I know? Because the same message should produce similar results! We have truncated the gospel message from a repent and be rebirthed into the triumphant, all-pervasive, God-big, kingdom of God, where we learn how to reign in life as King’s Kids in the Family Firm of Almighty and Sons, to a miss-hell-and-make-heaven type message that says the best you can hope for is to plan on losing and being last in history, but heaven will make up for it.
We have been telling people that they must bear with demonic assaults rather than repulse them. We are telling the crippled where to go to get wheelchairs instead of telling them to rise and walk in the name of Jesus. We have been medicating the demonized instead of delivering them. We have been comforting the afflicted rather than healing them of their afflictions. We have been trying to get more people to "come and see and hear the show" so we can employ them in institutional church-work. But the message and method of Jesus was to deploy more people to "go and tell and show the power of God" to all people groups, proclaiming to the ends of the earth and demonstrating that the kingdom of God is active, available, and accessible now, and any repentant rebel can enter it.
Our text in Luke 4:16-17, that Jesus read in the synagogue, was the official public announcement that he was the long-awaited Messiah The prophecy from Isaiah 61 that Jesus read was according to him, fulfilled on that day in the synagogue in Nazareth. “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled” (Luke 4:21). Christ is the Messiah, the prophet who brings the announcement of God’s kingdom breaking into the world.
The true captivity that Christ came to destroy was captivity to sin and to Satan (John 8:32,34). He said it was by knowing the truth that such captives were set free. Thus proclamation of the gospel sets captives free! So also Jesus’s healing ministry was seen as a work of liberation from the power of Satan, the “strong man” who guards his captives fiercely (Luke 11:21-22). When Jesus healed a bent old woman, he proclaimed that Satan had bound her, and he had set her free (Luke 13:16).
Thus it is clear that the mission of Jesus in proclaiming the gospel and doing astonishing miracles of healing was a direct fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-3. Jesus came “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (v. 2). This means the opening of a worldwide era of grace from almighty God in which the debts of sin can be cancelled, and prisoners can be set free to worship God in joyful liberation. As Paul said in 2 Cors 6:2, “See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation!”
This whole gospel of the kingdom of God that we must recover involves at least these five things:
- Redeeming the Beggars – Lk 4:18, “proclaim good news to the poor”. The text Jesus reads is not a carte blanche endorsement of the poor, nor is it a political manifesto. This hope extends only to the spiritually sensitive poor, to the responsive.
Every available believer is to proclaim to the spiritually bankrupt the good news that there is a love great enough to bring them from an alienation of their affections with God to a reconciliation in which they are accepted in the Beloved and loved by the Father in Christ as Christ; there is light bright enough to bring them from spiritual darkness into the marvelous light of the Sons of God; there is life healthy enough to bring them from the grave of their sins into the experience of resurrection life, and everlasting joy and peace ; there is liberty strong enough to bring them from their bondage in sin, self and Satan, into the glorious liberty of the people of God; there is a legality righteous enough to bring them from a state of legal condemnation into a state of forever justification, where they can live in the full favor of the Father’s House instead of in the fearful dread of the Court-house of final judgment and the sentence to the Prison-house of Hell.
- Delivering the Bound – “to proclaim (“kerusso”, “to herald (as a public crier) preach, proclaim, publish, deliverance (“aphesis”, freedom; pardon, deliverance, forgiveness, liberty, remission, to the captives (“aichmalotos”, “a prisoner of war)”
The proclamation of the gospel was to be followed by the demonstration of its power to cast out demons. Michael Green said, “that the early church went out into the world as exorcisers of demons as well as healers and preachers.” Yale University Historian, Ramsay MacMullen, raises the question, “What did early Christianity present to its audience? He concludes that divine power especially in casting out demons “had a terrifying high-voltage quality,” and should be seen as the chief instrument of conversion in those first centuries.”
- Enlightening the Blind – “recovery of sight to the blind” – this involves a teaching, discipling ministry. It’s not so much what we don’t know, but what we think we know that blinds us.
It’s the job of the Church to make disciples of all nations. If the church doesn’t teach the truth, who will? If the Church doesn’t turn the hearts of the Father’s to their children and the children to their parents who will? If the Church doesn’t turn the hearts of the rich to the poor, who will. We are to be salt and light.
It’s the light’s job, (gospel truth), to see that walls of ignorance and prejudice are broken down. We have the answer for racial prejudice – (g)race; We are to set the standard in exposing chronological, geographical, educational, financial, physical, and denominational prejudice, pride, and ignorance.
We are meant to announce to the blind that, if they believe in this Jesus, they may never see with their physical eyes in this life but they will see glories they cannot imagine. We are meant to announce to prisoners that they may still be required to serve lifelong sentences, but they will be free inside that jail if they believe.
- Healing the Brokenhearted – “to heal the brokenhearted.” The people of God are a healing community. Jesus sent out his twelve disciples and instructed them in Mt.10:7 “And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand. (8) "Heal the sick, … freely you received, freely give.” He sent out the seventy in Lk 10:9, instructing them “Heal the sick… and tell them the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In Mark 16:15,17, “And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation, and these signs will accompany those who have believed … they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Jacob George is a Every Home for Christ worker also serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators. He and his wife, Susan, had gone to evangelize the Konda Dora tribe in southeast India in 1979. Yet not a single member of this tribe had responded to the gospel in 10 years.
But a breakthrough occurred when Jacob's assistant, a believer named Devadas, visited one of the villages that was steeped in witchcraft. Devadas soon learned that sickness had prevailed throughout the population for two years and no amount of sacrifices to their Hindu gods had brought relief.
Devadas told them Jesus Christ could heal them, but the Hindus were skeptical. On a subsequent visit, however, the village leader declared: "You've been telling us about this person called Jesus. What must we do to believe in Him?"
Devadas instructed them to remove all their Hindu charms from around their waists, arms and necks, and place them in a pile in the middle of the village. He also told them to bring all their objects of Hindu worship from their homes and place them in the pile.
All the fetishes were burned that day in a huge bonfire. Within several days every sick person in the village was healed, and 50 villagers gave their lives to Christ. Soon, the impact spread to four neighboring villages, and a church was established at Sarsu Podar, the largest of the four.
- Renewing of the Bruised – “to set at liberty them that are bruised”. These are they who are bruised in their souls, emotionally devastated, scarred from the hurts of the past, infected by the wrong response to the rejection and hurts that have come their way, filled with bitterness and anger.
As a community of believer priests, we are to help them come to experience “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, to put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
There is healing for deadness of spirit, damaged souls, and diseased bodies. There is a whole gospel that is to be taken by men and women, who themselves are being made whole by it, into the whole world that they too may be made whole!
If we recover the gospel of the kingdom of God and start announcing that there is redemption for the beggars, deliverance for the bound, enlightening for the blind, healing for the brokenhearted, and renewing for the bruised, we will see the “greater works” (Jn. 14:12) Jesus spoke about being done in our days.