In a previous post, I had argued that sometimes the Christmas message is too narrowly conceived. In particular, I had argued that sometimes the Christmas message is framed like this: “Jesus came for the purpose of dying for our sins.” Of course, as I said previously, this is one legitimate way of putting the matter, but I think that it is by no means a comprehensive response to the question of “why God was made man” (cur deus homo).
I was thinking about this a little more and couldn’t shake this feeling that somewhere in the Gospels I had read that Jesus himself declared his purpose quite explicitly. So, utilizing my immense bible memory banks (read: bibleworks computer program) I happened upon Luke 4:42-44 where Jesus, after a whirlwind of rebuking demons and healing the sick, goes to a deserted place. We are not exactly sure why, but we can use common sense and guess that generally one enters solitude to recharge and focus more intensely on one’s priorities. Jesus does this and then, when discovered by his disciples, tells them this:
“I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.”
Luke’s gospel gives us a window into a Jesus who is not just journeying to a place called Gethsemane and Golgotha, but is also bringing with him a place, the Kingdom of God. Where Jesus went, the kingdom became manifest and we can take heart, this Christmas (where the kingdom was manifest in a stable!) and Epiphany season that where the Spirit of Christ manifests itself today, the kingdom is also manifest today. And this is why we pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10)