Preaching in Galilee

Today's Bible reading: Mark 1:36-39

The first chapter of St. Mark's Gospel provides a summary of Jesus preaching of the Kingdom.  Not Jerusalem and Judea - the center of Judaism - but Galilee up in the north is the starting point.  And Galilee - meaning “the circle of the nations” - was regarded with suspicion by the orthodox Jews in that center to the south!

Jesus still preached judgment from God on sin … but the message of the Kingdom is called “the Gospel of God.”  God’s rule is one in which He lays a gracious and merciful claim on sinners – including you and I.  Jesus proclaims: “The time is fulfilled” meaning: God's plan is now reaching its culmination.  Something decisively new is just around the corner: “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”

In light of this announcement, people are called to “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”  As Jesus’ teaching shows “Repenting” and “believing” are not human works … they are not the achievements of people who want to gain the Kingdom.  Repentance and faith “happen” - they are created - where the Good News of God’s gracious rule hits home in the hearts of hearers – which, of course, includes each of us worshiping here today.  They are two sides of the same coin: our recapture as rebellious subjects by the gracious King of heaven. 

Verse 36 of our reading today briefly summarizes the fact that Jesus soon gained a circle of disciples who heard the call into the Kingdom.  They were witnesses of His ministry of teaching and acting.  The casting out of demons is not a minor, additional feature of Jesus ministry: it belongs to its very heart.  For God cannot be King where another false king - Satan - is still ruling.

Prayer: Lord, preserve us from misplaced priorities.  Keep us focused on Your Gospel, that we may know and do what is pleasing in Your sight.  Amen