Mark 1: The Kingdom is arriving!

“The time is fulfilled!” he said; “God’s kingdom is arriving!  Turn back, and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)

In Mark, and for us who start this year reading this gospel, these are Jesus’ first words.  What great, revolutionary words!  Not “there is a kingdom waiting.”  Not “follow me to a kingdom beyond the azure blue.”  No, the good news is that God’s kingdom is arriving.  Here.  Now.  In Galilee.  And in Memphis.  In America.  In Afghanistan and Iran.  In your living room and the church conference room and in the projects.

That’s pretty cool news!  That’s worth turning around from whatever other news we have been paying attention to today.

There was other news in Jesus’ time too.  The news of the Caesar and his Empire.  The news from the “legal teachers” (1:22), as Wright calls the Jewish religious leaders.

But in the midst of much other news the people of Galilee are “astonished” by Jesus:

“What’s this?” they started to say to each other. “New teaching — with real authority!  He even tells the unclean spirits what to do, and they do it!” (Mark 1:27)

A new way to think.  A new kind of authority.  A new power.  A new hope.  That’s good news!

What verses impacted you in today’s reading?

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Categories: Mark | Tags: , , , , , , | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on “Mark 1: The Kingdom is arriving!

  1. Mike Hibbard

    Just like the leper we have been cleansed completely. Shouldn’t our response be the same as his, to tell everyone we meet? What’s stopping us?!

    • Nice observation! It is easy to forget we have been cleansed that completely, isn’t it? Yes, that’s a great example. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Linda

    (vs. 40-42) Love the faith of a believer “deeply moved” Jesus! I had to bring that home!

    • Great point! Both faith and need. Are you reading the KNT too? It uses “deeply moved.” The NIV has “moved by compassion.” This is precisely where I am liking a new translation. You more than most can appreciate the empathy and compassion of Christ.

      • Linda

        Yes, KNT.
        The Message also has “deeply moved.”

        And, I love how Jesus responds with “I want to!” How enthusiastic! How reassuring! He wants us to come to Him for our needs.

  3. Eddy Efaw

    From the preface of the KNT: “To be sure, we can and must learn from those who have gone before us in the faith. But they themselves would tell us that living faith requires that we do business with God for ourselves. Inherited spiritual capital may help to get you started, but you need to do fresh work for yourself, to think things through, to struggle and pray and ponder and try things out.” Wright was referring to his writing of a new translation but I see his words here as applying to Christians reading the Word as well. Thank you Jason for creating this online table around which we can break the Bread of Life together daily. May we not lean back on our inherited spiritual capital from our parents or from our own previous study. May we “lean into something lasting” (via an Andrew Peterson song called Planting Trees) and plow new ground together as we plant seeds of scripture together here in cyberspace that will grow real trees in our real lives.

    • Wonderful images, my friend. (I guess you found the book!) I especially like the image of this being an “online table for breaking Bread.” I couldn’t wish for more for this little blog. I hope you will be an integral part of the conversation.

  4. Eddy Efaw

    From Mark (verse 8) “I’ve plunged you into water; he’s going to plunge you in the holy spirit.” (KNT) I just love the picture of baptism being a plunging into the Holy Spirit. That image seems to have so much more energy than the normal “watery grave of baptism” : ) Except that our sins are what is in that grave of course.

    • Yes, that is another good example of why I am liking this translation (three chapters into my reading). I am afraid because of my denominational background the word “baptize” has lost some punch when simply reading the story. I guess this would be that “plowing new ground” you mentioned above. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I don’t have the KNT translation, so I’m working thru the NIV84 until I can get a copy. The thing that jumped outto me in Mark 1 was the sense of urgency “At once they left their nets and followed him…Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1:18, 20 NIV84) This is a rather personal reflection, but for some reason I’m lacking a sense of urgency in my spiritual journey. Is that bad? I don’t know. Why is it that way? Again, i have no idea, but it was certainly brought to my attention as I read the chapter.

    • Philip, I think you speak for many of us. Not so very urgent! Thanks for your honesty. Mark likes to emphasize that urgency, so this idea will keep coming back. Great point to emphasize.

  6. Melanie Semore

    I’m reading from ESV right now because I vowed not to buy any more books for a while.

    I am always struck by Jesus’ early rising to go out to pray alone. I seldom feel compelled to do that. I know I should, and I hope I will. But Jesus drew strength from his prayer time and, I think, was eager to spend time alone in prayer. I want to long for the solitude and time for prayer and contemplation.

  7. Verse 1-3;
    It was written in prophets, that there will be a messenger sent to them.

    “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight”

    I notice that the world Lord is being capitalize in Bible, it think this is to emphasize the the word to be something like “God”.
    but in verse 3, Lord being capitalize, and him is not, like Bible telling to a different person.

    I read Clarke and Barnes notes, seem “Son of God” is just reference to word “Messiah” or The Anointed One.

    I am reading NIV and KJV side by side.

    • Hello Hifzan!!! I am excited to see you have followed me over from the other blog. Welcome! I am glad you are here. I will be glad to answer your questions all day long, at least to the degree time allows. As I will have to do right now, I may have to respond in parts. You are asking excellent questions already and I will answer soon. I just wanted to say hello.

      Are you reading in English? Just curious. Seems so from the quote.

    • If you are reading the NIV you will either see “Lord” or “LORD.” The first is a generic word that simply means Master or Ruler. The second is a specific name that we typically spell “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.” Christians and Jews would typically say this is the personal name of God. Jews don’t typically say this word “Yahweh” so the title “Lord” or “Master” is said/written instead. In these cases “LORD” is in all caps so we know it is this special personal name form.
      Once you get to the New Testament, this same title, “Lord” (lower case) is given to Jesus as well, in part because it was a honorific title given to esteemed leaders and rabbis, which Jesus was, but also because as his followers began to believe/realize he was God they saw how the term “Lord” now had dual meanings when Jesus is concerned. So, yes, your assumption is correct.
      Specifically, verse 3 is a quote from Isaiah 40:3, that is now being associated with Jesus as the “Messiah” or “Chosen One” or “Anointed One.”
      Given the Islamic feelings about the Trinity, maybe it is easiest to read into the term “Son of God” these other terms, as you indicated. Christians certainly believe Jesus is a part of one God, and God described this as a Father-Son relationship so the term “Son of God” is an appropriate, common phrase for Jesus. Interestingly, there are translations out there used in Islamic regions that substitute the term “beloved of God” for “son of God,” so as to avoid unnecessary offense and to allow all people to really hear the message of the Bible and not get tripped up over words.

  8. Hi Jason,

    I follow other religion blog than my religion blog. As I used to read Islamic book and listen to it, so blog is my medium to understand others religion.

    Yes, I read in English, currently I read through pdf file, King James Version and New International Version. If I cant understand the meaning, I read the commentary from bible.cc. I do not limit myself to 2 version only, because when I found discrepancies in my reading I go back bible.cc to seek for another translation and commentary.

    In my (Islam) preaching, we have a class called “Tafsir” (interpretation) of Quran. We used to read clause by clause and give an explanation to it clause. In last 20 minutes, we used to give open session Q&A about the verse discussed. Most of time, the question is quite crazy and tough. So I just use a same method during reading Bible.

    • Thanks for the personal information. I love that you stay informed on many different religions. As you know from last year, I feel compelled to do the same. Long way to go, but I am trying.

      I think your method is pretty sound for what we are doing here.

      I look forward to talking to you.

  9. Pingback: Resources for Mark 1:18 - 20

  10. Eddy

    I’m starting 2015 off with a second read through the New Testament alongside this wonderful blog. I’m excited to see what God will reveal THIS time!

    • Welcome back, Eddy! I’ll be joining you. I’m picking up the Message this time around. Thanks for the encouragement to do this again.

  11. This line from the prophecy of Isaiah early in the chapter hit me: “Prepare for God’s arrival! Make the road smooth and straight!” That is what I most wish for this new year – a year enveloped in God’s presence.

    Then a bit later I find this great line from John the Baptist reminding me what kind of attitude makes that road for God smooth and straight: “The star in this drama [Jesus], to whom I am a mere stagehand, will change your life.”

  12. Okay, I’m in. Well, I’m going to try to keep up with this. I did a lousy job a couple of years ago, but I’ve forgiven myself and moved on. 🙂 I think I’ll work through the message, too, Jason as I have it on my devices (and I cannot find my copy of Wright’s translation).

    In the first part of the chapter, the word “change” kept jumping out at me. Perhaps it’s because today is New Year’s Day and that message is everywhere today, but “Christ as life-changer” resonated. In the second part of the chapter, I was struck by Simon’s mother-in-law and her immediate response upon being healed–she served. I’m sure there were some customary expectations at work here, but nevertheless, she is physically healed and immediately begins taking care of the physical needs of others. I like that.

    • Great observation! I love that about Mark — he gets right to it. Action starts right from the beginning. I am glad you are in!

  13. Courtney Garland

    Hoping to join you guys this time around.

    I love that the first words we see God speak over Jesus are words of affirmation. “You are my son and I am really happy about what you are doing.” Here Jesus is reminded of His name/identity and affirmed for the work He was embarking on. Isn’t that what we all need? A reminder of who we are as we go about the Kingdom work that has been assigned to us.

    • Courtney, what a blessing to have your voice in the conversation, and all the way from Africa! Great thoughts today! I sure need that affirmation you are talking about. Happy New Year!

  14. Claudia Bates Boswell

    Melanie Semore suggested this blog for me.

    I find it interesting that immediately after Jesus was acknowledged by God, and as soon as God announced that He was well pleased with Jesus,”the Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness” for the purpose “to be tempted by Satan.” Mark 1: 12-13. At the same time Satan was pestering Jesus, Jesus was also being ministered to by angels. That resonates with me on several levels. First, we should be cautious when we feel closest to God, because Satan will take that as a challenge to break that closeness, But, more importantly, when those times of temptation do come, this example shows that angels will be there to minister to us, in one way or another, so that we can overcome the temptation and succeed in whatever ministry should come to us.

  15. Melanie Semore

    I’m in. Jason, thank you for your leadership. I noticed this time that it’s as though
    Jesus has been at the starting block, ready to go, just waiting for the signal. The signal comes, and immediately he is thrust into his ministry. It sort of reminds me of the way we are, waiting for a new year when we can begin (start over, really) doing things like eating more reasonably, exercising, reading more, watching tv less. Well, it’s near the end of the first day of 2015. I don’t have a project or a resolution, but I am praying to be tuned in to God’s leading this year.

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