11 October 2021Mark 1:14-20
'The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near, repent and believe in the good news.' (v. 15)
The gospel writer has swiftly moved through the introduction to and the preparatory period of Jesus’ ministry to the first examples of what it's about in practice. The key message is 'good news' (v. 1 and v. 15). At the outset we are told that this is “good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (v. 1) and now this is embellished to be clear that there is no longer any need to wait or doubt as “the time is fulfilled” as “the kingdom of God has come near”(v. 15).
The kingdom of God is a theme that will run through Mark's Gospel, with miracles and parables illustrating what it meant, and yet many of Jesus’ closest followers repeatedly failed to see this or understand it. It was something that was longed for and prophesised from Old Testament times, and so to suggest it had “come near” was a big and bold statement.
From Jesus’ initial words it could be seen as something that was yet to come, and so those listening should “repent and believe” (v. 15) in preparation for its arrival. However, as the gospel writer makes clear from the outset, Jesus Christ himself is the good news, and so some would say that his presence among them meant the kingdom of God was already a present reality. This 'realised eschatology' as it is technically known by biblical scholars, was indeed very good news, and was going to start changing peoples’ lives very quickly, as we can see with Jesus’ encounter with Galilean fishermen.
We are not given any details but it’s probable that Simon, Andrew, James and John will have already heard Jesus preaching and teaching following his move to the area. They may have had time to consider what he was saying and talk about it with each other. Nevertheless, when the call comes they respond instantly: “And immediately they left their nets and followed him.” (v. 18) It’s a call that meant leaving behind jobs and family, responsibilities and certainties, but it’s one that could not be ignored.
- Can you see signs of the kingdom of God in your life or experience? Give thanks for them.
- How would you have felt if you were Zebedee, losing the help of your sons, but still having the cost of hired men to pay for?