Jesus Begins His Ministry– Mark 1:14-15
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – July 28th, 2019
- So far in our series we have understood who Mark was and from whom he received his information. We understand this book is the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. We know that what is written in this gospel was the fulfillment of prophecy given in the Old Testament. John the Baptist was the messenger who had come to “prepare the way for the Lord.” He did this by calling people to repentance and baptizing them.
- Jesus then came to be baptized by John to “fulfill all righteousness.” In this baptism, the obedience of the Son was empowered by the Spirit and affirmed by the Father. Afterword, the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness to be prepared and tested as the devil tempted Him.
- Today we are starting a new section of Mark that describes the opening stage of Jesus’ ministry in the region of Galilee. This new section starts in Mark 1:14 and goes to Mark 3:6. The introductory statement (1:14-15) is followed by the calling of the first disciples (vv. 16-20), Jesus’ ministry in and around Capernaum (vv.21-34), and a series of “conflict stories” (2:1-3:6) that reach a point where people plot to put Jesus to death.
- The introductory statement to this section is important because it contains the main focus of the teaching of Jesus, and we will be spending our time in these two verses this morning. Let’s read them together:
Mark 1:14-15 ESV
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
- John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ ministry were linked- one was to come before the other. There needed to be repentance before people were to believe in and receive Jesus. John’s ministry was essentially completed with his arrest and imprisonment by King Herod (we will look at this event when we get to Mark 6). It is at this point Jesus starts His ministry in earnest, and He did so in the region of Galilee away from the temple worship in Jerusalem.
- Matthew provides us with a few more details.
Matt 4:12-16 ESV
Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
- Again, there is an interconnectivity with what Jesus did concerning what was promised and prophesied in the Old Testament. The people who lived in this land were “dwelling in darkness” and Jesus was the “great light” which had dawn. This is the first place where the light was shown, the “dawn” of the ministry of Jesus. This was the place that had been chosen and prepared to receive Christ first. Why here? Perhaps they were away from all the sophisticated religious trappings of the city of Jerusalem. Jesus started here and recruited his first disciples from this region.
- After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the Gospel (good news) of God. The first thing that he said was “The time is fulfilled.”
The time is fulfilled
Mark 1:14-15 ESV
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled,
- The time is fulfilled . . .what “time” was Jesus talking about and how was it “fulfilled?” John Piper gives us some help in answering this question from a sermon he gave, which I have adopted on this point (find it here at https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-importance-of-the-kingdom-today) .
- Let’s go back to the Old Testament for a few moments and think about its expectation for the future. What was the Old Testament hoping for? What does it say about the kingdom of God?
- The Old Testament makes very clear that in one sense God is now the King over all things and His kingdom is established. For example, Psalm 103:19 says,“The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” And Psalm 145:13 says,“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.”God is now the king over all the universe. He reigns by His sovereign power and nothing comes to pass but by His kingly decree.
- What might Jesus mean, then, that “the time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is at hand?” The answer is that the Old Testament hoped for the day when God would not only be the sovereign King in heaven controlling the affairs of sinful men, but would stand in glory and save His people from sin and misery, defeat their enemies, establish righteousness and peace, and set up a throne on the earth to rule in a more immediate and personal way.
- For example, Zechariah 14:9 says, “And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.”In other words, God will one day assert his kingly rule over the earth in a way that he will no longer have any competitors: he will be ONE, the only ONE. Or look at Isaiah 24:23, “Then the moon will be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before his elders he will manifest his glory.”In other words, the day is coming, Isaiah says, when God will set up His kingdom in such a way that the glory of the Lord will be revealed and no longer hidden.
- This is what Jesus meant when He said, “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom is at hand.”God is about to exert His rule or His kingly authority in a new way to save His people, defeat their enemies and reveal His glory in the world.
- So when Jesus says, “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel,” He means that the time has come for God to break into this world as never before, to reveal His glory in a personal way, to comfort His people, and to defeat their enemies (Luke 1:71). This is called “gospel” because it is such good news for all who will repent and trust in God.
- There is another place where Jesus makes it very clear that His coming is the fulfillment of this long-expected kingdom. In Luke 4:18–19 he goes into the synagogue in Nazareth and reads the prophecy from Isaiah 61:1–2, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” When he had finished reading, he said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
- In other words, “The time is fulfilled! I am the one being spoken of. My ministry is the arrival of the long-awaited kingdom of healing and salvation and freedom from oppression. God is now revealing Himself as king to save and deliver and help like He never has before.” And Jesus is that King.
- His message is Mark 1:15b “the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Let’s look at the first part.
The kingdom is at hand
- The kingdom of God is at hand, meaning that it is already here now, and it is still coming in its fullness. It is “already” and “not yet.” First, a kingdom is a place where a king reigns. And in this case, the king is God Himself reigning in sovereign perfection. In this kingdom all things are right and rightly made. There are subjects of the kingdom and one who reigns supreme. When Jesus came, He came announcing the kingdom and making a way for people to enter the perfect kingdom by living a perfect life and taking the punishment for our sin upon Himself so that we can be made and declared perfect giving us the right to enter into the perfect kingdom with a perfect king. This kingdom is already here . . . but not yet here. Jesus taught:
Luke 17:20-21 ESV
“The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
- The kingdom of God is with us now in the hearts of those who are His, where the King is reigning already. The kingdom is here in our hearts and where we go, we represent the kingdom. However, the Kingdom of God has not yet come in its fullness. It will do so at the second coming when Jesus comes not as the suffering servant who opened the door to the kingdom, but as the reigning king who comes in power and glory. Jesus taught many times that the kingdom in its fullness was future as well (see Luke 13:28-30, Luke 14:16-24, Luke 22: 16-18). The coming of the kingdom—would happen in two stages: first, with Jesus coming as a suffering servant to atone for sin, and second, with Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
- There was confusion about this by many people at the time Jesus was preaching because they thought the kingdom would come all at once. That is why Jesus taught the parable of the Ten Minas (and others).
Luke 19:11-12 ESV
As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.
- We are to live as citizens of the kingdom as we wait by faith for the promises of God to be fulfilled when Jesus returns in all his glory. We are to spread this “good news” to the ends of the earth so that all people may know and have opportunity to enter into this kingdom.
- Because the kingdom of God is as hand, we are now to “repent and believe in the gospel.”
Repent and believe the gospel
- Repentance is the first appropriate action when we come to the understanding that there is a King who reigns, and this King and this Kingdom has laws that have been established by the perfection of the king. In order to be a part of this kingdom you must live according to the law. The bad news is all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). There is a standard that we must live by, but we have missed the mark and are therefore guilty and deserve to not be admitted to the kingdom.
- Our first need is to be forgiven and to be declared “not guilty” for the crimes we have committed. We are to repent and acknowledge that what we have done is wrong and turn from our evil ways. May God open our eyes and turn us from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. That we may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ (Acts 26:18). Understanding, conviction and repentance is what is first needed.
- After that we are to believe the gospel, the good news of Jesus: who He is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do. We say that “Jesus is Lord,” that He is our King and we strive to please Him in every way and follow His will. This is what it means to be a Christian. This is more than believing that God exists – it is acknowledging that He is Lord and receiving Him and both Savior and King.
- Know that God is continuing to unfold His divine plan for all the ages. He fulfills His word both in the past and in the future. His plan will be fulfilled in His timing. The kingdom of God is here, and the kingdom of God is coming.
- Repent of your sin and believe the good news of Jesus Christ. Live as citizens of the kingdom by seeking to please Him in all things and by spreading His message.