Help is finally available. At least that must have been what the throng of the city folks were thinking as they followed Jesus out of town, up into the hills. Had He just healed their friends and family members of life pain, disabling disease even paralysis? This is the kind of help the crowds understood. This aid for the ailing was not the distant promise of eternal bliss or the propaganda and idealist revolutionary; this help was a mirror, located in the tangible now rather than the unknown tomorrow. It took no clever ad campaigns to mobilize the multitudes. Jesus’ following was a natural response to the promise of healing and wholeness.
Certainly, the crowds hung on Jesus’ every word. His credentials were draped across the shoulders of all of those who had been sick and we’re now well. The words He spoke were charged with electricity, surprising and supernaturally real. As He taught the multitudes from the natural pulpit of the mountainside, He elaborated on the hope of generations. The throng must have listened in rapt attention as He detailed the finer points of a new kind of life, the kind of life that emerges from a reality He knew so well.
As Jesus taught, He gave a look at a life in tandem with God, a life bristling with an otherworldly energy. Hope can be found on the horizon, right around the bend or right here! Jesus offered His students a chance to join God in His exploits every day, to hold fresh hope out to the world.
This offer of supernatural interaction was deeply embedded in the prayer Jesus suggested on the mountainside:
Our father in heaven, your name is holy. Let your kingdom come, let your will be done on earth like it is in heaven. Give us what we need for today. Forgive us our debts and we’ll forgive those in debt to us. And don’t lead us into temptation but get us out of evil.
Jesus was not holding out the idealism of some sweet by-and-by, merely passing out some religious opiate for the masses; Jesus was teaching the crowds to ask God to be involved with them today. And by today, He meant right now. Let God‘s kingdom come now. Give us sustenance today, not at some undisclosed time in the future.
This was no 20th century style prosperity gospel; Jesus would later explain that the troubles would surely come, but this was the proclamation of God come to earth. And He had come to earth with a reckless love that would not wait for the other side of eternity to bless His people. He wanted to give them a reality to place their hope in. He was opening up the doors of His kingdom, calling all who would listen. And His kingdom, His reality, His help is still available for all of those who would hear His voice and would answer. Even now.
God, thank You for the hope that isn’t only for the future – it is for today.