Sermon by Daniel L. Sonnenberg | July 13, 2014
And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
This is the first sermon in a series on the Kingdom of God.
- The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ preaching and a principal theme in Scripture.
- The word kingdom, or the phrase kingdom of God, or kingdom of heaven, appears
- 51 times in the gospel of Matthew alone and
- a total of 121 times in the synoptic gospels,
- 3 times in John’s gospel, and
- 33 times in Acts and the Epistles, for a
- total of 157 times in the NT.
- The phrase itself doesn’t appear in the OT but impressions of God as king and of his kingly rule are pervasive throughout its pages.
- There is a general, eternal kingship or rule of God as creator, and there is an exclusive, covenant kingship or reign over his chosen people Israel.
- This covenant kingship was the hope of OT believers.
- Even when the nation was declining or in exile, the prophets promised that a time was coming when God would manifest himself as king.
- They promised a great future realized through the ministry of Messiah.
- A time of salvation and blessing, not only for Israel, but for all the nations.
In this series, we are seeking to discover two things:
- to understand the nature of the kingdom Jesus preaches,
- and how we should respond to that message in our daily lives.
- We begin today with the gospel of Mark where Jesus announces that the long-awaited time, has indeed begun.
When the kingdom began.
- Note first the timing or advent or beginning of the kingdom, when the kingdom began – “after John had been taken into custody.”
- John was the forerunner of the Messiah.
- He had announced that “the kingdom of God” was ‘at hand,’ that the kingdom was ‘near.’
- John’s being put in prison signaled to Jesus that John’ ministry as the forerunner was complete and the time of Jesus’ public ministry was to begin.
- While still in Nazareth, as we read in Luke 4:16-21, Jesus had announced, to the amazement of all who heard, that he himself was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 61, that he was the anointed one, the sent one, the Messiah of God.
- The imprisonment of John told Jesus that now was the time for him to take up the messianic ministry, “to preach the gospel to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
Where the kingdom began.
- Note second the location of the kingdom – where it began – “Jesus came into Galilee.”
- As we read in Matthew 3:12ff, Jesus at that time left Nazareth, and moved to Capernaum in Galilee
- – where the people who were in darkness lived
- – in order to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, “beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light.”
- This change of location further identified Jesus as the one who would bring in the promised kingdom of God.
- He comes out of obscurity into public view.
- He intends to be noticed.
- Those who knew the Scriptures knew that the kingdom would come first beyond the Jordan in Galilee.”
- The location of the kingdom was wherever Jesus was, and the Scriptures prophesied that Messiah would minister in Galilee.
By whom the kingdom began.
- Note third the messenger of the kingdom – who brought the news of the kingdom.
- It was no longer John, but now, Jesus, whom Mark in chapter 1 verse 1-1 identifies as “Jesus Christ, Son of God.”
- Mark identifies Jesus not only as the Son of God, but also as the LORD, Jahweh, for whom John the Baptizer came to prepare the way.
- This Jesus is both Son of God and God, the promised Messiah, the messianic herald of Isa 40:9; 52:7 and 61:1 whose role is to announce the gospel.
- The point is that the king himself had come into Galilee.
- The long awaited Messiah, the King himself, was announcing his own arrival.
- That’s why I titled this message the proclamation of the king(dom) with the d-o-m in parentheses.
- The king himself was announcing his own inauguration as the ruling monarch of his kingdom.
How the kingdom began.
- Note fourth the method of the kingdom – how it began.
- It arrived through Jesus’ “preaching the gospel of God.”
- As we will see later, Jesus preaching was an integral part of his ministry.
- Jesus was preaching not only what John had already said about the kingdom, “the kingdom of God is at hand,” but also, “the time is fulfilled.”
- This is the “gospel of God.”
- The message of the gospel, the good news, is that the kingdom of God, the rule of God, the reign of God has begun.
- The time is fulfilled means that something has already begun, that something or someone has already arrived.
- It means a commencement has taken place.
- Annie and Evie recently graduated from high school.
- Why do they call it a commencement instead of a conclusion?
- Because it is a new beginning, the beginning of the rest of your life.
- Commencement speakers say things like, “you are standing at the threshold of the next stage of your life.”
- Or, “the curtain has been raised and you are entering into the next act of the drama of life.”
- That’s the meaning here of “the time is fulfilled.”
- All the requirements for the final stage of redemptive history have been met.
- The promised king has arrived, he has crossed the threshold of the door into this broken world, the curtain has been raised and the final act of the drama of the end times has begun.
- Theologians call the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth, the inauguration of the kingdom.
- A presidential inauguration marks the official beginning of his service to his country.
- He was elected months ago, but now he enters into his role.
- The “time is fulfilled” has eschatological, or end times, meaning.
- It means that the end times have begun.
- After Jesus’ earthly ministry was completed – after his life, death, resurrection and ascension – there is nothing left to happen except his coming again. So the beginning of his ministry marked the beginning of the end.
Why the kingdom began.
- Note fourth why Jesus was preaching this message of the kingdom.
- The reason was so that men might “repent and believe” in the gospel.
- With the coming of the kingdom comes a divine summons, a divine demand, an either/or from God.
- You must repent, and you must believe in order to enter into the kingdom.
- John has already called Israel to “repent,” to change one’s mind and heart, to take a radical new direction.
- Jesus now adds “Believe in gospel.”
- It means not only intellectual assent that the good news of the kingdom is true, but a response of personal trust, acceptance and commitment.
- It’s a demand of obedience. A demand of discipleship.
- For entrance into the kingdom, repentance and faith are necessary, essential, required, mandatory.
SO WHAT? Urgency and certainty.
- Finally, we ask “so what?”
- What difference does the coming of the kingdom make in your life today?
- For the unbeliever, the difference is a sense of urgency.
- For the believer, the difference is a sense of certainty.
- For the unbeliever, there is a sense of urgency in Jesus’ message.
- He tells the unbeliever that the next thing to happen in redemptive history is the final end, the second coming of Jesus to bring judgment or salvation.
- The nearness of the end is illustrated in Jesus’ parable of the fig tree in Mark 13:28.
- “When the branch becomes tender and the leaves are about to sprout, you know that summer has come near.”
- In other words, summer is the next thing to happen.
- Jesus’ actions in confronting Satan, sin, disease and death and subduing nature is the sign that the end, the day of the Lord, the return of Christ, is next act of God in man’s future.
- It is the sword of Damocles poised over the the unbeliever’s naked neck.
- It says provision has been made for men to repent, but there is no time for delay. “Today is the day of salvation.”
- Only through repentance can man participate when the joy of the kingdom breaks forth.
But for the believer Jesus’ words convey a sense of certainty.
- The fact that the kingdom has begun assures us that the kingdom will be consummated.
- Because whatever God begins, he finishes.
- Whatever God promises, he fulfills.
- That’s why Paul can write to the Philippians, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Phi 1:6 ESV)
- That’s why we can sing,
- “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory divine…”
- Heir of salvation, purchase of God… Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood…. This is MY story, this is MY song….
- The coming of the kingdom tells us that God has a plan.
- God has a purpose for this world of sin and shame, a plan to deliver his people out of it.
- The gospel is the good news of the arrival of the KOG.
- The KOG is the rule and reign of the king in the world
- the coming of righteousness,
- the coming of peace,
- the control and defeat of evil,
- God’s blessings showered on the Christian,
- believers becoming heirs of God with a hope of everlasting life and joy.
- The good news is this – the promised kingdom has begun.