Jesus introduced a new way to perceive power, as a corrective to oppressive and violent power prevailing all around him. While the disciples certainly agreed with Jesus’s declaration that the kingdom of God was coming with power (Mark 9:1), they failed to grasp the type of power to which Jesus referred. Jesus invited his disciples, and He invites us, to take part in the power that characterizes divine life – the power that characterized his own life, as one who was sent by His Father into a broken world; power defined by love, suffering, service, and inclusion.
The disciples misunderstood what Jesus’ mission was really about. While Peter confessed Jesus as Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus silenced him when he objected to Jesus’ suffering and death. Why? Because suffering did not fit into Peter’s scheme of powerful kingdom. The disciples saw Jesus cast out demons, feed the masses, and heal the sick without concern for the recipient’s social status or ethnic origin, and yet they seemed to expect Jesus to reserve His power for those they deemed worthy. They failed to understand that the true power of the kingdom, the power to transform the world, lies not in worldly demonstrations of violence, exclusion, and oppression but rather in actions of love, service and inclusion of the other. Jesus was indeed a boundary breaker.
Jesus reached out to Jew and gentile alike. He casting out demons and pushed back the darkness that had invaded sacred space. The power of the Jesus was not expressed in terms of violence against the other, coercion, or the inversion of political power but rather through his power to overcome oppression through love, sacrifice, service, and inclusion of perceived outsiders.
Jesus inaugurated the kingdom of God, and we look forward to the day when God will join heaven and earth and make everything new (Rev. 21:5).