Summary: With his first words, Jesus ushers in the kingdom of God.
We are now moving out of Mark’s introduction to Jesus’ life and ministry, and getting into the story of his ministry. In verse 1 he introduced the theme of his writing – it is about the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; verses 2-8 presented John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus; verses 9-13 introduced us to Jesus as he is ordained and prepared for his ministry. Now the ministry begins. In our passage, verses 14-20 we hear Jesus speak for the first time. Let’s hear and learn from what he has to say.
His Preaching 14,15
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.
Herod had arrested John. He had taken his brother’s wife from him and married her. John, who seemed to have little fear of denouncing anybody’s sin, publicly spoke against the marriage. This did not sit well with Herod’s wife, who wanted him arrested and eventually would see to his death.
Mark’s only purpose here is to note that John’s ministry has been completed as the forerunner of Jesus, and now is the time for Jesus the Messiah to begin his work. What is the work that he does? He preaches. He goes back to his home territory in Galilee and proclaims the gospel or the good news.
How significant is this work? To the Jew reading Mark’s words, he would understand well what Mark is signifying. Listen to two passages from the prophet Isaiah, which look to the redemption the Messiah would bring.
7 How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
together they shout for joy.
When the LORD returns to Zion,
they will see it with their own eyes.
9 Burst into songs of joy together,
you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the LORD has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The LORD will lay bare his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see
the salvation of our God (Isaiah 52:7-10).
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn (Isaiah 61:1,2).
Mark is showing that Jesus is the Anointed One (the literal meaning of Messiah) coming as was promised to proclaim the good news of redemption.
Thus Jesus says, The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. What time has come? The coming of the Messiah. What does the coming of the Messiah mean? That the kingdom of God is at hand. The Messiah, as every Jew knew, would restore God’s kingdom. And not merely restore, but he would establish the kingdom in its fullness and for eternity.
One such prophecy which filled the Jews with expectation is in the book of Daniel: