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Summary: The Gospel is an exclusive messge, not an inclusive message. We must Repent, Believe, Follow or we are not in the kingdom of God. This exclusive message shows Jesus is the only way to salvation.

You may have heard about the two guys from Texas, who came up to Alaska do some ice fishing. They landed in Anchorage, but didn’t bring any fishing gear. So before they did their ice fishing they stopped by a Wal-Mart to get some supplies. They asked the clerk if he had any ice picks and the clerk pointed them out on the shelf. Each of the Texans grabbed and ice pick and checked out. A short while later they returned and asked the clerk if he had any more ice picks. This time they each got two. A couple hours later they returned and told the clerk, “We’re going to need all the ice picks you have.” The clerk was somewhat shocked at the Texan’s request and asked, “Don’t you have a hole big enough to fish yet?” “Fish” the Texans replied. “We don’t even have the boat in the water yet.”

This morning in our Scripture we see that Jesus, leaves the wilderness, just outside the river Jordan and arrives at the sea of Galilee to start his ministry. Notice, Jesus does not enter into own ministry until John the Baptist is jailed, essentially put out of business. Remember, last week we saw that John was preparing the way for Jesus. The removal of John shows it is his time for Jesus to begin his ministry. John preaching was on what was to come, but now Jesus has come. John the Baptist’s ministry is like the deadline for your PFD, right? The message is very urgent before March 31st, - register by March 31st so you can receive your PFD in the fall. On March 31 there is a line a block long at the PFD office in downtown Anchorage, on April 1st, there is no interest no line, no concern, the deadline has passed. You know on July 5th, all the fourth of July nick knacks at the stores will be 50% off. The fourth will have come….Jesus, He is here, there is no more need for preparation, John the Baptist’s time has come, and gone. {Note to reader: PFD is Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, paid out to each resident of the state of Alaska in October. The dividend has been running about $1000.00 per person give or take a few hundred}

We read in verse 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” John preached repentance of our sin, stop your sin and get back to your relationship with God; Like John, Jesus preaches repentance of our sin, but he wants more than repentance, he wants our faith – “believe the good news”. Jesus takes things a step further because He is the solution that John was pointing to. When we read verse 15, we may assume the emphasis is on belief, but surprisingly belief is not what is emphasized, the emphasis is on the nearness of the kingdom of God. The emphasis is on the kingdom, the emphasis is on God’s initiative in bringing healing to our lives.

The kingdom of God is near in two ways here in Mark: First it is drawn near spatially with the person of Jesus walking among the people, and second the proclamation is veiled, so that it is not obvious, it like it is in a different dimension, standing right next to you, but you are completely unaware of its real meaning. And so, Jesus is seen a just another man for the kingdom of God is so close at hand that the people could reach out and touch it, but they remain unaware. So Jesus tag teams John the Baptist, bringing John’s message of repentance combining with it a message of repentance and belief - and then, by his very presence Jesus walks out of the wilderness and brings the kingdom into existence. Notice that the kingdom exist whether it is seen or not, whether it is acknowledged or not, whether one agrees with it or not – there it is. There is no debate, no opinions are sought after, Jesus, Mark says, makes the kingdom near….What the coming kingdom demands of us is this: decisive action – you must repent AND believe; It is only through repentance that a person can participate in the kingdom when it breaks forth. Do you see that in verse15? Repent and believe. See it there in black and white?…..well, it may be in red and white in some bibles. We see right here, and then reinforced throughout the gospel that Jesus becomes the way by which people enter the kingdom of God. In other words – repent, believe, follow - Jesus – sets the stage for the confrontation of the gospel radical exclusivity. How? First Jesus is presented as “the way” which means, the way, not one way among other ways and second, If I do not repent, believe and follow Jesus – I am not a disciple of Christ. I must stop, turn around, change who I am and go through faith, through the person of Jesus Christ and if I do not, if I do not, I am lost. Period.


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