Lydia does not need a man or any other figure of authority to speak for her or to dictate her life. She is her own agent and even Luke-Acts’ Paul has to respect that. She cares for her own, commits to seeking justice, and makes her own choices.
Jesus’ claim to be the good shepherd is much more than a comforting metaphor. It is a claim to kingship and a clarion call to surrender our wills and follow him to green pastures. His kingship subverts hierarchies. He models followership for us and ushers us into wide-open spaces where we can flourish in his upside-down kingdom.
It is, as we read throughout Acts, about how this epistemological truth has moral and ethical implications, disrupting the naturalized ways in how we relate to each other as consequences of history, religion, or culture. We do not only see Jesus where we expect him, but also in those who are oppressed, who we oppress, and oppose.
As apostles of Jesus, in the face of hatred and violence, Christians are called to embody a culture of healing and transformation. Being witnesses to the risen Jesus Christ is an existential commitment to pursue justice and practice love.
Accompaniment in fear, in suffering, in trauma: that seems to me to be an appropriate call for Christians over the past three Easters. We are still sitting in a messy, middle space – enduring in grief, and hoping for a new day, a new creation.
Luke states with exquisite and unmistakable clarity that God will not hesitate to silence those with power, and give a bullhorn to those without power, even ensuring that—if need be—the creation itself will speak justice into the world.
On the one hand, there is in the foreground “a land flowing with milk and honey.” On the other hand, as one reads the text with modern eyes and ears, the problematic language of inheritance, possession, and settlement the chapter begins with rightly alarms readers concerned about occupation of stolen lands using theologically justifying language.
We look for revelations on the mountain tops—among the most powerful and famous. God’s politics of reversal, on display throughout Luke, call us to re-center this search in the valleys and level places, in the face of the child and the plea of a father.