‘The time has come…The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ (Mark 1:15 NIVUK)
The New Testament gospels were written as the original eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life were dying off and were recorded to tell us who Jesus was, and what he said and did. Mark is the earliest of these accounts and almost immediately, the first thing Jesus says are the words recorded in our header scripture. Here he talks about the ‘good news,’ or ‘gospel’, and ‘the kingdom of God.’
The Greek word for ‘gospel’ is euaggelion. It contains the word aggelos, which means messenger, someone bringing news of an event that happened, and the prefix eu, meaning joyful. So, it is news that brings joy. This word doesn’t refer to routine daily news, rather it relates to some history-making news like victory in a battle. When a battle was won a herald was dispatched who proclaimed the good news of the victory that had occurred. He was the evangelist, the bringer of good news.
Christianity is about the good news of what has been done in history, what has been accomplished in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus so that humanity is saved in him. The good news is that salvation is not based on what we do or how we perform, but on what he has accomplished in history for us.
But what does Jesus mean by ‘The kingdom of God has come near’? The story of humanity in Genesis is that we chose to be our own kings and queens deciding for ourselves what is right and wrong and not wanting God in the picture. When our relationship with God unraveled, all other relationships unraveled, because self-centeredness destroys relationships. The kingdom of God was near because Jesus, the king of the kingdom, had come. Jesus, the true King, came to undo Adam’s disobedience by being totally obedient to his Father in heaven, even to death on a cross.
The kingdom comes near to us today because Jesus has come to be with us through his Spirit. As we stop being the rulers in our kingdom and come under the kingship of Jesus, relationships are healed and restored, both with God and with our neighbour. In this way the kingdom of God advances and grows until Jesus comes back again. Then, what began as a tiny mustard seed will become a mature tree
In the new heaven and new earth everything will be restored and healed: fear, suffering, tears, poverty, injustice, hunger, disease and death will be gone.
The gospel of the kingdom of God is that King Jesus came to save us from our sins, is with us now to advance his kingdom in building relationships and will come again to restore all things.
Now that’s good news to proclaim with joy.
Father, may Jesus be the true king of our hearts as we join with him in advancing the kingdom.
Have a good week advancing the kingdom.