04/02/T – The Kingdom has Come Near

Exodus 39:1-43; Mark 1:1-15; Psalms 35:10-18; Proverbs 12:11

NT: “John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins… He proclaimed, “One who is more powerful than I am is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.” Immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels were serving him. After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”” (‭‭Mark‬ ‭1:4, 7-15‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

The Gospel of Mark was most likely written by John Mark who lived in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus and according to tradition, was the Apostle Peter’s interpreter. Therefore, it is believed that this gospel reflects the experiences of Peter as written by John Mark. Mark was written with a Roman audience in mind, so this gospel is very succinct and action packed. It focuses more on what Jesus did over what He said. It reveals Jesus as God’s servant. Because this gospel focuses on Jesus as a servant, Mark does not spend time on Jesus’ pedigree or the story of His birth. Instead it quickly gives evidence of Who Jesus was. Isaiah the prophet prophesied of Him, John the Baptist prepared the way for Him, God the Father proclaimed Who He was, and the Holy Spirit empowered and led Him. Mark then cuts to the chase and very quickly brings us to Jesus’ ministry and message: “The Kingdom of God has come near, Repent and believe the good news!”

Psalms: “Malicious witnesses come forward; they question me about things I do not know. They repay me evil for good, making me desolate. Yet when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting, and my prayer was genuine. I went about mourning as if for my friend or brother; I was bowed down with grief, like one mourning for a mother. But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; they gathered against me. Assailants I did not know tore at me and did not stop. With godless mockery they gnashed their teeth at me.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭35:11-16‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

One of the principles of the Kingdom of God is that those in the Kingdom do not hate their enemies, but instead love them and do good for them. See Matthew 5:43-45. That is what David describes here. When his enemies became sick, he grieved for them and genuinely fasted and prayed for them, even though they were celebrating every time he made a mistake or had misfortune happen to him. So much now, our culture (especially here in the U.S.) has taken on the attitude of David’s enemies instead of care and respect for humanity. So often, when those on the opposite side of the aisle of us fail or are stricken with misfortune or sickness, we celebrate instead of being sympathetic. While that is to be expected of those in the world, it should not be true of those who are in God’s kingdom and claim to be children of God. We love our enemies and pray for them. We don’t have to agree with them or like the things they do, but we do love them as people made in the image of God and we pray for them – not wishing harm nor celebrating when harm comes to anyone. That is the way of the Kingdom – and God honors those who live in that way and blesses them with mercy, forgiveness, and peace.

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