Storm Clouds Ahead
“I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word” (Psa. 119:15,16).
Read Mark 1:14-20
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Repentance is no fun at all” (C. S. Lewis, 1898–1963). Facing our own sinfulness (not a fashionable idea these days) is no fun at all! But it is the doorway into God’s kingdom.
Debates have raged over the meaning of the kingdom of God, but in recent years they have abated. We have agreed to agree. The kingdom is now and not yet. The kingdom is social action and experience of the powerful and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. We work for the kingdom, bring in the kingdom, build the kingdom and live out kingdom values. The kingdom seems to be a much-loved idea at the heart of the faith of many contemporary Christians.
I suspect that Jesus’ words in this passage bring many of our ideas about the kingdom crashing to the ground. He proclaims that the kingdom is just around the corner (the Greek verb engiken means “has drawn near”). In view of the nearness of the kingdom, Jesus does not invite people to build it with him, to overthrow unjust political structures, to work for the transformation of society or to receive the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He calls us to repent.
Why? Mark leaves us clues elsewhere in his Gospel. Jesus suggests that the kingdom of God comes when the Son of Man comes with his holy angels (Mark 8:38—9:1). When the Son of Man comes, he comes to judge. Jesus makes this clear enough in the preceding verses where he warns people that if they are ashamed of following him, so will the Son of Man be ashamed of them on the day when he comes to judge (Mark 8:34–38). Jesus preaches that the kingdom comes when God judges. When God judges, the righteous will be rewarded and sinners will be condemned. Jesus knows that when the kingdom comes, God will judge and so he asks sinners to repent. Then they will find forgiveness. The nearness of the kingdom means it is time to prepare for judgment.
Jesus’ message might sound harsh or even old-fashioned to contemporary Christians. However, his call is clear: repent. Let us share this message so that others might find his grace.
What is it about Jesus that makes you follow him? Since Jesus call us to be “fishers of men,” what gifts and skills do you bring to the task?
Gracious Lord, as I wait before You, bring to my awareness any unconfessed sins I am harboring. (Pause and reflect.) I place them before You, thanking You for Your forgiveness.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.