Summary: Jesus’ authority makes certain demands on us, but it also empowers us to follow Him wholeheartedly.
The Big Boss From Galilee
About a year ago I was struggling with one of the boys in Sunday School. I looked him in the eye and asked a question I felt sure would bring him in line: “Brandon, who is in charge here?” That kid wasn’t gonna let me get away that easy, so he replied, “Jesus is.”
If ever a man spoke God’s truth with authority, it was Jesus. It has been said that the
scribes spoke from authority but that Jesus spoke with authority. The first words He speaks in verse 15 come as a news flash that “the time is fulfilled,” as if to say, “Time’s up! You’ve been waiting how many years for the Messiah to show up? Well, I’m here. And right on time.” God’s people can trust in the perfect timing of God. He may not always come when you want Him, but He is always right on time and when He shows up it’s with supreme authority.
We’ll be a lot happier if we remember that sometimes God answers our prayers by saying, “Not yet.” A man once asked God how long a million years was to Him. God replied, “It’s just like a single second of your time, my child.” So the man asked, “And what about a million dollars?” The Lord replied, “To me, it’s just like a single penny.” So the man gathered himself up and said, “Well, Lord, could I have one of your pennies?” And God said, “Certainly, my child, just a second.”
The timing of God is perfect. The Lord Jesus came right on time, and He will be right on time when He comes back to rule on this earth. We sometimes wonder how much worse things can get, that maybe Jesus has forgotten us, but no, He will not be late. Jesus then trumpets the news that “the kingdom of God is at hand.” “At hand” meaning, within reach, but not quite in the hand yet. The word translated “kingdom” here comes from the Greek word basileia, and it means first, the authority to rule as a king and, second, the realm where that king exercises his authority.
So when Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is at hand,” He is announcing His authority. In those days when King So-and-so invaded a land, he dethroned and overthrew the reigning power and released any prisoners that the ex-king had captured. King Jesus walks into Galilee. His objective is to dethrone and overthrow Prince Satan, and to free His people from the power of evil and death. Satan would have shuddered, listening to this sermon about the kingdom of God, but to the captive’s ears it would mean freedom and allegiance to a Savior and King who loved them and would rule wisely and justly.
Unfortunately, the Jews didn’t read Jesus’ announcement correctly. When Jesus took His message into occupied Israel, where Roman soldiers could be found patrolling every street corner,most of the Jews read “political revolution” into the phrase “kingdom of God,” but that was not what Jesus had in mind at all. His kingdom has to do with His reign in the lives of His people. And He has not lost His desire to reign in our lives, to reign over us, and to use us to change our world for Him. Jesus wants us to follow Him. That much is clear from today’s story, where
Mark teaches us two important lessons about Jesus. The first is:
1. Jesus Has the Authority to Call Us After Him
Let’s try to imagine this Sea of Galilee. It’s a beautiful fresh-water lake. Fed by the upper
waters of the Jordan River, it is seven hundred feet below sea level, fourteen miles long, and six miles wide. Plenty of room for fish, so as we look out across the water we see as many 330 fishing boats sailing upon the lake. Among those who fished this lake for a living are Simon and his brother, Andrew. A little further down the water are James and John, sons of Zebedee who’s in the boat with his boys and his servants. Like most fishermen, these men have courage, an ability to work together, patience, energy, stamina, faith, and judging by the callouses on their hands these guys are tough.
But not so tough that Jesus is afraid of them. In fact, according to John’s gospel, Jesus
has met them all several months earlier, and His preaching grabbed them by the ears and virtually
demanded that they believe in Him as the Messiah. So on this particular day when Jesus comes walking along the Sea of Galilee, He is able to call these men from their regular occupations and make them His disciples. “Follow me!” He says. This is kind of a strange way to start a following. Usually when a rabbi or a teacher wanted to start a new class he’d wait around in his classroom until the students decided to show up. Not Jesus. Jesus goes right up to the water and calls the fishermen right out of their boats.