“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” - Mark 1:14-15
The Gospel of Mark is known for its fast-paced telling of Jesus’ story. By the time we get to today’s passage, Mark has already summarized the coming of John the Baptist fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy (Mark 1:1-8), Jesus’ baptism (Mark 1:9-11), and the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Mark 1:12-13). The rapidity with which Mark writes points both to an urgency in getting the message of the Gospel written down, as well as a possible detailed previous knowledge of these events by Mark’s intended reader.
Much like the Gospel of John, Mark spends no time on Jesus’ childhood and birth, but chooses instead to focus the first part of his Gospel on the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. To me, this is fitting and entirely in keeping with a central part of the Gospel of Jesus: the time for repentance and salvation is now! Repent and believe in the Gospel!
Just as we saw in the story of Jonah and Nineveh, God doesn’t call us to wait for his salvation, to postpone repentance, or avoid restored relationship with him. God calls us now. He doesn’t want us to miss out on one more day of living without his presence or following his call on our lives. Jesus ushered in the kingdom of God; it’s here, and we are invited to be a part of it. There is still so much more to come, but God doesn’t want us to wait until the end of our days, or until Jesus returns (whichever comes first) to live the rich life of knowing and loving him. He wants our hearts now.
Sometimes the world becomes overpoweringly loud and our everyday lives can start to feel mundane, slow, or boring. It’s easy to forget how urgent it is not only to give our lives over to Christ, but to also preach the Gospel to those around us. The kingdom is at hand, all we have to do is reach out and accept it.
Mark wrote during a time of serious persecution for Christians who needed encouragement to continue in the faith. The events of the last year have caused pain, fear, and anger around the world. If you find yourself in a time of doubt, fear, or anger, I encourage you to read through the Gospel of Mark over the next few weeks and ask God to renew your heart and turn your focus back to him. If possible, discuss these things with a trusted friend, family member, or mentor. If you find yourself in a time of peace but unsure of how you can share the Gospel at this time, I encourage you to ask God to show you a simple way for you to live out this sense of urgency.