Summary: This sermon deals with the meaning of the words of Jesus "good news", the "kingdom of God" as found in Mark chapter 1 with a reference to Matthew 4 and how Jesus is the "light" that dispels the "darkness"
In Jesus Holy Name January 25, 2009
Epiphany III Redeemer
“The Man from Nazareth in Galilee”
This has been a historic week in America. Millions of American filled the Capital Mall just to be present at the Inauguration of President Oboma. Millions more watched the event on television in homes and in classrooms. It was a peaceful transition of power.
I was just wondering… what do you think of Richard Johnson? What’s your estimation of the man? Was he good or bad, was he incompetent or a genius? And as long as we are on the subject: what do you think of George Dallas, or Cabell Breckinridge, or Schuyler Colfax? I’m really curious about how you would rank William Wheeler, Levi Morton, Charles Fairbanks, Alben Barkley, James Sherman, Henry Wilson, Garret Hobart and Elbridge Gerry.
Those of you who are masters of trivia, or live in the hometown of one of these men might have an opinion. Still I’m reasonably sure that most of you today are saying, “Who? Never heard of any of them.”
Now if all those names are nothing more than names to you, I’m not entirely surprised. I had not heard of them, either. But maybe I should have, especially since I was a history major in college. All of these men were vice-presidents of the United States. All of these men were a heart-beat away from the presidency: all of them were constitutionally next in line to be America’s leader.
These men were loved and hated, respected and reviled. When campaigning, kissing babies people were proud to have met them and bragged to their friends…. “I shook the hand of Vice President….
Greatness. If there is anything in the world which is here today and gone tomorrow it has to be greatness. Generals win their victories and heroes do deeds of great daring. They are welcomed home by beating drums and the fanfares of military brass. But soon their gallantry is forgotten. Politicians and statesmen shape and shake the world, but only for a passing moment. The click of the clock, the flip of the calendar, promise that pharaohs will be forgotten. Presidents and prime ministers will become dusty dates in unopened history books.
Greatness. Ask someone under 30 years of age to tell of the work of Alexander Fleming. They will be hard pressed to speak about a man who is responsible for many of them being alive. They can not imagine a time when the prick of a pin or a tiny cut might have been lethal. They will not remember the time when hospitals were places went to die from simple infections. When asked to describe himself, Alexander Fleming simply said: “I can only suppose that God wanted penicillin, and that was the reason for creating Alexander Fleming.” How enduring is greatness? How long with the honeymoon for the new President last?
Last week in our Sunday Gospel less we heard excitement in the words of Philip who was telling his friend Nathaniel… “we have found the Messiah, the one Moses told us about!” What Nathaniel’s response? Nazareth….you’ve got to be kidding, what good can come out of that town!”
In his mind, “great prophets” did not come out of the village of Nazareth… Nathaniel was not impressed. Philip said…come and see.
How does one begin to tell the story of Jesus Christ, the man from Nazareth in Galilee? Mark begins: “The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ.” His words waste no time. Mark wants us to know that God himself, has entered our world.
The announcement that God exists is not the “good news.” Most people in most centuries have believed in the existence of God or gods. Human beings have built temples of marble and sacrificed to their gods. They have called upon their gods for victory in war, safety at sea, wisdom for leadership. Our new President began his first day at the Washington Cathedral. A prayer service; a time to worship, calling upon the Lord for wisdom and leadership.
For Mark, the “good news” means that God is in our midst in the person of Jesus. He deals with our most basic human need. The desire to have peace with God.
Mark tells us that after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, Herod, the king had John placed in prison. Herod, the son of Herod the great was having an affair with his brother’s wife. John walked the streets of Jerusalem and publicly called Herod to repent. Herod needed to silence that scolding voice.
It was not safe for Jesus in Jerusalem so he returns to Galilee and begins to proclaim the same “good news”… “repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
What is the “good news”? The good news… God has planted his feet on earth in Jesus. Jesus explains it this way: “Listen to my words. You are striving for acceptance with God. Your hope for peace with God will find completion in my life.” It is time to repent for the kingdom of God is here.