The Spirit of the Lord, §5: Euangelion of shalom

The prophets describe the Messiah as one who comes on behalf of the oppressed, the marginalized, the brokenhearted, the exiles, the prisoners and captives, the living and the dead. The Messiah comes to “bring good news to the poor” (Lk. 4:18) and “to provide for those who mourn in Zion” (Isa. 61:3). The Messiah comes to announce the “good news of peace,” the euangelion of shalom (Acts 10:36). The Messiah brings this evangel to those who are caught within the creaturely tension between life and death, in the bitter estrangement between essence and existence. The “good news” is given to the poor and the oppressed: they are promised justice in which economic and political disparities are abolished by the righteous reign of the Messiah. The “good news” is given to the captives and prisoners: they are promised freedom for the full enjoyment of creation. The “good news” is given to the exiles: they are promised land where their “heart shall thrill and rejoice,” where their “gates shall always be open,” where life may flourish in peace (Isa. 60:5, 11). The “good news” is given to the valley of dry bones: they are promised flesh, sinews, skin, and breath (Ezek. 37). The “good news of great joy” is given to all humanity: they are promised “this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk. 2:10-11).

If the mission of the Messiah is to redeem those who have gone down to the pit—to rescue those lives caught in the abysmal grip of Sheol (cf. Job 33:8, Psalm 30:3, Isa. 38:17)—then all who confess the Messiah as their Lord must also be those who seek to be agents of life in the midst of death and of justice in the midst of oppression. While the unique mission of reconciliation belongs to Jesus alone, the message of reconciliation—the euangelion of shalom, the gospel of peace and the promise of salvation—belongs to us and requires evangelists who themselves opt for the poor and embrace the rejected (2 Cor. 5:18). Since the gospel proclaims that God has come in Jesus, the promised Christ, to liberate the exiles, the marginalized, and the captives, it follows that the people called to be bearers of this gospel must also welcome home the exiles, humanize the marginalized, and restore the captives—while always identifying themselves with those who desperately need liberation, remembering that God alone is the one who liberates and has indeed liberated us in Jesus Christ. Those freed by God from captivity are now freed for a life of faithful witness to this freedom. Those reconciled to God are reconciled not only on a forensic level, but also on the levels of ontology and morality—we have a new identity, one that demands fidelity and obedience. “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor. 5:17).


Good. And perhaps the pivotal point. I wish people preached from Luke more often...