Mark 1:14-15- “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” NKJV
The Kingdom of God!
Mark not only uses words like “immediately” and “straightway”, he seems to write in a hurry, getting straight to the point, so I will do likewise!
In our text, Mark states that John has gone to prison. He doesn’t tell us why John the Baptist is in prison, just that he is. Later on in this book we will get more details, but for now, this is all that he tells us. Mark is giving us a timeframe to help us to understand what is happening in his narrative. It is also interesting to note that Jesus did not begin His ministry until John was completely off the scene.
After John is put in prison, Jesus went to Galilee. I learned a little more about Galilee in my readings. Galilee was an area ruled by the Romans at the time of Jesus. Prior to the Romans, the Greeks controlled the area and left its mark on the region. If you ever wondered why the New Testament was written in Greek and not Hebrew, it is because of the Greek influence.
Demographically, Galilee had Jews and Gentiles living in the area. The Gentiles were a diverse group of people with Grecian, Roman, and other backgrounds. In this environment was a mixture of Jews, those who considered themselves to be Orthodox Jews, and those who had embraced the culture of the day. The Jews were struggling to maintain their identity in this environment.
Mark tells us why Jesus went to Galilee:
Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of GodMark 1:14b NKJV
Remember that Mark writes in the beginning that this “book” was about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark stated that Jesus went to Galilee for the express purpose of preaching to the Galileans. His message was simple: the gospel of the kingdom of God. And yet, somehow, we have managed to complicate the message!
In the Young’s Literal Translation, the kingdom of God is translated, the reign of God. Jesus, knowing that the Jewish nation is under the rule of Rome, starts His ministry preaching about a new rule, the rule of God! When you think about it, this was a serious situation that demonstrated the absolute boldness of Jesus. The Roman rulership has been established, and everything and everyone must adhere to it, but Jesus announces a rulership by God, to the people, in this occupied land!
Jesus said to them:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”Mark 1:15 NKJV
Let’s look at that first phrase, “the time is fulfilled”. The word for “time” in this verse is “kairos” and it means “a fixed and definite period of time”, or the season. What Jesus was saying is the time had come for the kingdom of God to be made manifest. It was a fixed time in the plan of God, an undeniably, unstoppable time, and He was there to fulfill that assignment. With Him came the kingdom of God!
This was not to be a natural kingdom as some supposed it would be. Those of the Jewish nation knew that in previous times, they had conquered their enemies and ruled the land God had given them. However, after many years of disobedience and assimilating to the cultures around them, instead of being true to God, they lost the land and they lost their hunger for the true and living God. Actually, many of the Jews that Jesus encountered were indoctrinated in the Hellenistic/Roman culture of the day which included polytheism and a love for self. Therefore, Jesus announced that the time had come for a change of rulership!
`Fulfilled hath been the time, and the reign of God hath come nigh, reform ye, and believe in the good news.’Mark 1:15 YLT
The reign of God has come near, reform! Change! Repent! Jesus was preaching that it was time for a change! We think, repent, but often times we think of it in terms of godly sorrow. That’s not what Jesus is saying here! Jesus is saying, change, reform, turn away from the kingdom you are in and come into the kingdom of God! You’ve been under the wrong rulership, it’s time to change!
It is also important to remember that the region of Galilee is where the kingdom was to be established, according to Isaiah:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.Isaiah 9:2 NKJV
Galilee was a land of the shadow of death, with a people who walked in darkness! But the Light of the world entered this city of darkness, exposed the darkness, and brought life to the inhabitants!
Believe the Good News! Jesus declared that this was good news! God has returned His affection to His people and has come to establish His kingdom, or His rule over the earth! This is exciting news, Jesus tells them! Believe it! It’s true! It’s for real! No longer do you have to be subject to the rulership of the worldly government, because there is a new government. God’s government! Get excited! Believe!
Immediately Jesus tells His listeners how this kingdom operates! It operates on faith! You have to believe in this kingdom, and believe what is shared about this kingdom, in order to experience this kingdom. Faith in the God of the kingdom, and His way of doing things! That’s what the kingdom of God is all about!
His rulership! His rules! And to be in this kingdom all you need to do is change and believe! It takes an absolute trust in God, trusting His word, trusting the relationship! And as we get into learning about the kingdom of God, we come to terms with the truth that things are different in this kingdom, different from the Roman kingdom, different from the Hellenistic kingdom, and most certainly different from the kingdoms of the world!
Jesus doesn’t stop to do an altar call! He has preached His message! He has encouraged His listeners to believe! And now, Mark tells us, He goes and recruit some workers for the kingdom!
And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.Mark 1:16-18 NKJV
Mark writes that after preaching His first sermon, He calls four of His disciples: Simon and his brother Andrew, and James and John, sons of Zebedee; all natural fishermen. Jesus told them that He would make them fishers of men!
Although Mark doesn’t make mention of these disciples outside of their trade, there are some things we can infer as truth. Simon and Andrew were on their boats working, as were James and John. Quite possibly they were coming in for the day. The Zebedees obviously had a larger boat with more people on it because they left their father and the hired servants on the boat. At least, Mark felt that it was necessary to mention this. I believe that Simon and Andrew had someone else on the boat because they would have lost the boat to looters if they would have just abandoned it. Later, we know that Peter was in his boat fishing because Jesus got on the boat and told him to launch out into the deep.
Another thing about the disciples is that this isn’t their first meeting of Jesus. John tells us about their meeting Jesus in a different way. But this is when Jesus calls them to be partakers of the kingdom with Him, and they follow Him during His earthly ministry, learning of Him and from Him!
In my next blog, we will look at Jesus demonstrating the kingdom of God! Wonderful Jesus!