Jesus really seems to mess things up in the lesson from Luke. He had his chance to unify his political base but it was lost instead. Politics. We have likely played the game at one time or another. We have also likely been played. Politics goes like this:
The right phrases or code words are used to get your base’s attention. Emotions are tugged at, especially fear. Fear is a good one. Fear of change. Fear of our neighbor. Fear of those with different ideas. Yes, fear is a good one to rally the base behind you. You need to say what will bring the people together.
Jesus was getting a lot of good attention from those in the synagogue. They spoke highly of Jesus and how gracious his words were that he spoke. The people were amazed at how far Jesus had come from being a simple carpenter’s son. The people were ready to follow but then Jesus messed up.
He announced the beginning of his ministry by quoting from Scripture. Did he quote Scripture that reinforced the feelings of nationalism and rebirth of the nation of Israel? Nope. Did he quote Scripture that emphasized God’s preference of Israel over the other nations, namely Rome? Nope. Instead, Jesus quoted from the prophet Isaiah of good news brought to the poor, freedom to the prisoner, oppressed were released and of the year of the Lord’s favor when society was rebooted and all debts were cancelled. The result of the widening gap between the rich and poor was made more level.
The people still were interested until Jesus told of God sending Elijah to a widow in Zarephath during a famine and not to Israel. Also of Elisha cleansing Naaman’s leprosy and none other. These two were Gentiles. The people were furious and tried to throw Jesus off a cliff to kill him.
Just before this Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. One of the big temptations was to have all the nations of the world if Jesus would only worship the devil. He could have had the people if he only played the game of politics. They would have lifted him up high if Jesus only would go for the power of the world. In the end, the people lifted him high on a cross but he was raised on the third day. The power of God is greater than our sin. The power of God is what can raise up new life from our passion for death.
Jesus came to announce good news to the poor, the oppressed and the prisoner. He came to announce the year of the Lord’s favor. He came to save us and make this world new. Jesus was a lousy politician. This is good news.