Mark tells us that Jesus preached in the synagogues, proclaiming the Kin-dom of God. Maybe this is a typical sermon Jesus would have preached. Jesus unrolled a scroll and began:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.
Yes, my sisters and brothers, the Spirit of God is upon me. John was my cousin and Herod has arrested him. John taught me to preach repentance, “Repent, the Kin-dom of God is here. It is among you.” I am picking up John’s torch. I am calling for repentance. Turn your lives around. Listen to Me, follow God’s ways.
My mission is to proclaim liberty to you who are held captive by the Roman occupiers and our priestly leaders who are in cahoots with them. You are oppressed. They are taxing and tithing you to death. You can barely scrape up enough to provide food for your families. Their purity codes and debt codes are holing you captive.
My mission is to let you who are oppressed go free. I will give sight to the blind and heal your infirmities, many of which are the direct result of oppression, exploitation and inadequate nutrition. I am calling for a year of Jubilee relief when all land will be restored to its rightful owner, including that confiscated from you to pay your taxes and tithes.
Jesus was interrupted by someone in the crowd, “Are you the messiah or should we look for another?”
Look around. I am giving sight to the blind. The lame are leaping for joy. The deaf hear my words. Lepers are cleansed. Demons are driven out. I have come from Abba God. Abba God’s Spirit is upon me. I am not a rebel brigand who will use force to plunder. I am not a Sicari zealot who is quick with the knife. I am not a Zealot seeking the violent overthrow of our oppressors. No, my Kin-dom is different.
I abhor violence and all that it begets–misery, suffering and death. It is a deadly downward spiral. I proclaim to you the power of nonviolent love. I say to you, “Love your enemies.” Yes, you heard me–love your enemies. Pray for the Romans and the Jewish collaborators who are ripping you off and making your life miserable.
A few weeks ago, I left my adopted hometown of Capernaum and was walking along the Sea of Galilee. A crowd of followers began to form. I preached a long sermon that day and when I finished, I could tell that the people were tired and hungry. I called the disciples together to see how e could solve the problem. As usual, they did not have a clue. Finally, someone mentioned that one young man had five barley loaves and two fishes–not enough to feed so many. I called the boy forward. He began to share his food. Soon others broke out the bread they had brought for the journey and began to share. In the end everyone had enough to eat. You see, my Kin-dom is about sharing, not hoarding riches and resources in silos.
Life in my Kin-dom is not about what you have or what you do. It is about who you are. it is about who you are in relationship to Abba God, one another and the creation all around you. Learn from the lilies of the field. Learn from me. I am meek and humble of heart. If we can show others that life is not about conquest for land and possessions, we can start a new order, a new Kin-dom.
Again, someone in the crowd–probably a scribe–interrupted Jesus, “So we are to love our enemies and the Romans will just fold up their tents and go away. Get real. That is so impractical. It will take action from a patriotic band of zealots to rise up and use force to drive them from our land.”
Unrattled, Jesus continued:
I am not preaching pie-in-the-sky Pollyanna stuff. Violence has got to go. Violence begets violence. Violence does not work in the long run. We will work for justice. We will reestablish right order and right relationships. We will nonviolently resist the vicissitudes of empire and we will overcome.
We will set up soup kitchens for the hungry. We will build shelters for the homeless. We will care for the sick. We will visit the imprisoned. We will welcome the immigrants who have come among us.
But, we will do more. We will work together to challenge the structures which are oppressing us. We will resist nonviolently. We will confront the oppressors. We will challenge them to examine what their oppression of us is doing to them as human beings.
Now, this will not happen overnight. We must put out hands to the plow and not turn back. People who oppose our nonviolent message and actions–antichrists–will appear. They will act out of their greed. They will encourage us to place our trust in the empty promises of empire–security, wealth, fame. They will try to stymie us at every turn but we will persevere. We will overcome. Unfortunately, some of the antichrists will be people in power positions in a church I never intended to start.
Listen, my sisters and brothers. Listen to me. Love one another as I love you. Value and build strong relationships with Abba God, one another, and creation. We are one.
At that moment a man came forward and fell before Jesus’ feet, “Jesus, I ask forgiveness. I have exploited these people. I have charged them exorbitant taxes so I could feather my own nest. I repent and I will give back what I have stolen.”
Jesus looked gently upon Zacchaeus and said:
Zacchaeus, you are blessed. Salvation has come to your house this day. Can we all gather at your house and have a party to celebrate your conversion? If you do not have enough wine, I can take care of that.
The crowd emptied from the synagogue and walked to Zechariah’s house singing psalms and praising Abba God.