Summary: Are we willing to make his service the priority in our life? Are we proclaiming the gospel in the confidence that comes from knowing Jesus, who taught with authority, who cast out demons and healed people of incurable diseases?
Jesus begins his ministry with this clear announcement: “The time is fulfilled.” That is, it’s complete. Time’s up. We’re at the end of the line. Notice that John, the one who’s like Elijah, has finished his ministry. Mark wants to make it clear that the time of the Old Testament prophet is over. Now a new era, a new message has arrived.
I wonder, if you were here last week, did you notice that it was after John was arrested that Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the good news of God. Was that bit of information put in just so we’d understand when this happened or is there more to it than that? One of the things you discover reading Mark is that he’s very good at giving us pointers to things in Jesus’ life that are significant, We saw that two weeks ago with the word associations that Heather pointed out at the start of Ch1. And I think the same applies here.
You see, John is the last of the Old Testament style prophets. He represents the old covenant that’s now passing away - being replaced by a new covenant. Jesus represents a new order in God’s Kingdom. When he says “the time is fulfilled” the word he uses has the idea of completed, come to it’s conclusion.
So he comes proclaiming the good news of God, the news that announces a new deal for God’s people. We’re not told the contents of the good news yet, but that’ll become clear as we read through the gospel.
And it’s as though Mark’s saying that even as Jesus begins his ministry the work’s already as good as finished. Jesus, the Messiah has come and God’s plan hurries to its intended conclusion. It’s as though Jesus’ coming is part of a single event: his incarnation, his death and his resurrection all flow together into the one moment in history when everything comes together.
But if that’s the case then Jesus’ coming means that this moment, right now, is the appointed time, the time of decision. And so Jesus begins preaching to the crowds just as John had, “repent, and believe in the good news”.
Then one day as he’s walking along beside the Sea of Galilee he sees two brothers, Simon and Andrew, who are casting a net into the sea and he focuses his call on just them. He says “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” Suddenly his message has become very personal, very costly in fact. He calls them not just to repent but to put that repentance into action. They’re to turn away from their current way of life and become Jesus’ followers in the most literal sense. In fact isn’t this how it mostly happens in Jesus ministry? He tells people to give up everything so they can follow him. He warns those who are getting enthusiastic that to follow him means giving up the comforts of home, giving up family and friends, giving up the excuses that we’re so quick at coming up with in order to avoid the cost of discipleship.