For some reason, my brain always skips the sentence that follows, “Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem.” I’m not sure why it happens, but it seems as though I’ve never noticed that in between the famous line from Luke 9 and the disciples’ unfortunate incident with the Samaritan city, Jesus does something. “He sent messengers ahead of him.”
These messengers aren’t “apostolos” (those who are sent) as I expected them to be, but instead “angelion” (angels, messengers, one who is sent). This is the same root as “euangelion” from which we somehow get the word gospel or Good News. These messengers were sent to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, but that Good News wasn’t going to be what anyone expected. Instead of the power and might of Jesus entering Jerusalem to reign as king, this Good News is going to be of a suffering servant, sent to claim the authority of God’s Kingdom through silence and humility; through love and self-offering; through sacrifice.
The Kingdom of God is an upside-down kingdom. It is won through kenosis and agape – self-emptying and sacrificial love. The Good News (euangelion) of the Kingdom of God is proclaimed by angels (angelion), even as Jesus sets his face for the final journey of his ministry: to Jerusalem, to the cross, to the resurrection.