Monday, March 2, 2009

Short, sweet and to the point!

     The kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.--What in the world is Jesus talking about? After all, what time has been fulfilled? That part of His sentence would make more sense after He rose from the dead. How has the kingdom come near? Does He not know that He will soon be tortured and nailed to the cross?

     The time is fulfilled.--God works on God's schedule. He does as He sees fit. You and I, looking back on history or even our own lives, can see where He has worked. When He gives us those eyes to see, we can see fulfillment. Jesus is announcing to us and to the world that God is acting marvelously, now. Of course, you and I know the story and know what was significant about this particular time in history. He came for this purpose, to save each one of us from certain death.

     The kingdom of God has come near.--God is not distant in our story. Amazingly, wondrously, He has become fully human and walked among us. Better still, He has redeemed us that we might become His people through His dearly beloved Son. The kingdom of God has come near because He has come near! He has come so near that Mark's audience can touch Him.

     Repent. We so often fall into the trap of believing that we are permanent, that we are responsible, that we are captains of our own ships. Our battle cry mimics the aphorism "If I am to succeed, it is up to me!" Jesus' simple one word demands reminds His audience and us that He is in charge. Always and everywhere, God is in charge. The is nothing in our lives to which He accedes control. The sooner we give up our selfish desires and remind ourselves that He is in charge, the happier we will be.

     Believe in the good news. Faith. It is such an easy thing to misunderstand. Too often, we think of faith as religious in nature, but you and I believe in things not religious. When I turn the key in my ignition switch in my car in the mornings, I believe it will start. When I go to work each week, I believe I will be paid for my efforts. When I love and cherish someone, I believe they will return the love and respect in turn. Yet, how often do our cars fail to start? How often do companies skip town and try not to pay their workers? How often do people use our love and affection for them for their own purposes? The failure, of course, is because the objects or people in which we place our faith are themselves broken. Jesus is reminding us to have faith in God, to have faith in Him. He cannot and will not fail. Even death, which should be that which causes Him to fail, cannot stop Him!

     Mark, in this simple and short verse, reminds us of the heart of the message which we should be carrying to the world each day. God wins! Jesus' ministry is all about the fact that God wins. When He commands the spirit to leave the man, the spirit leaves. When He commands the leper to be clean, the leper is cleansed. When He is sought at the tomb on that Easter morning, the messengers tell the ladies "He is risen!" These are not the words and actions subject to doubt. They happened! And in their happening, we are given reason to believe that He is who He says He is! And that ultimate testimony is His conquering over death. Because He has conquered death, He can redeem anything, including our own deaths, in our lives. Ours is not a message of possibility. Ours is a message of promise. A promise of everlasting life with a God who loved us so dearly that He saved us when we could not save ourselves. That, brothers and sisters, is the message you and I have been given to carry into our daily life and work. That, brothers and sisters, is the Good News of the Gospel!


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