“And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.”
It is difficult in our democratic times to grasp the reason for the intensity of the excitement people exhibited when Jesus “proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom’—literally, ‘the good news about the reality of God’s reign on earth’, or to put it another way: the time when the Creator’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. THAT is what the ‘coming of the Kingdom’ signifies. THAT is what was promised. THAT is what was yearned for.
But how are we to understand that reign? Why does the coming of THIS one bring this reality?
Some of the answers to those questions come from our psalm set for this day, Psalm 72 (this is the beauty of the lectionary as it brings together texts that help interpret one another).
The Psalm is from the pen of Solomon, David’s (natural) greater Son—the one who built God’s Temple and who exhibited God’s wisdom (prior to his own fall!).
The psalm begins with a request to God to give the King what he needs to fulfill the task he’s assigned:
“Give the king your justice, O God and your righteousness to the royal son!”
‘Justice’ and ‘righteousness’ are the divine gifts required, but what is the task?
“May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice’
‘May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor.’
The gifts of God are to be used by the King on behalf of the people, and especially the poor of the people; he is to judge, defend, and give deliverance to them by crushing the oppressor.
The divine-human partnership is described in beautiful terms. As the Creator must take care of his creation (‘Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people’), so the King must take care of the people (‘May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.’)
And what is the result when both of these things co-exist?
“In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound till the moon be no more.”
Simply put, creation flourishes and humanity – at least the ‘righteous’ within humanity–thrives!
Solomon goes on (v. 8-17) to speak of this king in terms of all ‘other kings’:
He prays that the ‘Righteous King’ may ’have dominion’; that all other kings ‘bow down before him’, that ‘his enemies lick the dust’, that great kings ‘render him tribute’, and ‘all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him.’
And why should this be so?
“For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper’.
Because he does what all kings should do; he fulfills the Creator’s will for his creation.
The gifts given to Israel’s king are intended for the entire creation. The task accomplished by Israel’s king leads to the fulfillment of the Creator’s will for the entire creation.
“May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed.”
According to Solomon, these are the gifts of God that are given when the Creator reigns through the Righteous King: the creation itself flourishes, the righteous among humanity thrives! It is something to get excited about.
Matthew would add one more component to Solomon’s ode: namely, that which is broken within creation will be healed!
‘”And (Jesus) went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.”
And to what end? “So his fame spread throughout all Syria….”
Even at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the entire creation is the goal.
It is something to get excited about!