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Jesus seems to see the whole story of his people coming to fulfillment in his time and in his own person...He is claiming to be a new David...In talking of liberation...he is identifying himself as a new Moses, a new lawgiver who gives the people a new law?...In calling people to faith...In constantly affirming the need to believe the humanly impossible is possible with God...In refusing to draw or respect racial, religious, moral, ethnic, economic, or class barriers, in welcoming non-Jews and treating them with kindness and respect, in eating with both Pharisees and prostitutes hated by the Pharisees, Jesus shows primal kinship with all people--a kind of second Adam who seeks to bring people together after so many centuries of distrust and division...In healing the sick and raising the dead, in performing exorcisms and confronting injustice, in interacting miraculously with the forces of nature, Jesus even identifies himself with the story's original and ultimate hero--God--stating that those who had seen him had in some real way seen God, declaring that he and God were one, and suggesting that through him, God was launching a new world order, a new world, a new creation...

These are not the words and ways of a polite teacher, no matter how brilliant...These are primal, disruptive, inspiring, terrifying shocking, hopeful words and ways of a revolutionary who seeks to overthrow the status quo in nearly every conceivable way...Against that backdrop, perhaps we can now imagine an obscure Jewish carpenter without credentials or status, without army or militia or even a weapon, without nobility or wealth, without even land or home...With a handful of unimpressive and diverse male followers and a substantial entourage of supportive women as well, he travels village to village, speaking to rustic peasants and the urban poor, having a special attraction to the unemployed and the homeless, the disabled and the disadvantaged, the social outcasts and the marginalized children and women...These--the ones he repeatedly calls "the poor" and "the little ones" rather than the greatest--are the ones, he says, who will receive the kingdom of God first...

Why no weapons? Why no well-oiled political machine? Why live in constant vulnerability? Why not identify a scapegoat, an enemy, a target of hatred? Because, Jesus says again and again, this kingdom advances with neither violence nor bloodshed, with neither hatred nor revenge. It is not just another one of the kingdoms of this world. No this kingdom advances slowly, quietly, under the surface-like yeast in dough, like a seed in soil. It advances with faith: when...

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