I’ve begun reading the gospel of Mark with my family on Sunday nights for our weekly family devotions, I read a chapter to them and then ask questions and talk about what we read. I have a 12-year-old, a 9-year-old, and a 2-year-old. The 2-year-old isn’t involved as much of course. And, well, it’s a process with the older ones. I don’t push it hard with them. I’m just wanting them to think a little.
In chapter 1 of Mark I had an interesting realization. Sometimes reading the Bible aloud can have that effect. It makes you hear things differently and have realizations. Some people call them “revelations.” As I was reading, I started to see a theme emerging. It happened after I had read v. 14 and 15:
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (2011 NIV)
And was somewhat further supported when I got to verse 35-38:
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (2011 NIV)
I had realized something. It seemed that Mark was wanting to convey something early on in his Gospel and that is: the signs of the kingdom follow the proclamation of the kingdom.
My realization was that the theme flowed out of Jesus’s proclamation: “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
This was a question I asked of the text: how do we know the Kingdom of God has come near? The answer is found in continuing to read on in Mark 1.
As we read on, we see that Jesus calls his disciples, he drives out an evil spirit in the synagogue, he heals Simon’s mother-in-law and many others; (pause: he goes to a lonely place to pray and recharge), he heals a man with leprosy.
I don’t know why yet, but the realization just has sat with me. It’s been ruminating. The message of “the gospel” (the good news) is that the kingdom of God has come near. And how do we know that? We know it because of the signs and wonders that follow this proclamation.
Signs and wonders followed Jesus’ proclamation of the gospel – God was here and he is on the move! People were repenting. People were being healed and delivered. Evil spirits were being driven out. Mark starts his gospel out with Jesus on the move!
This makes me think of Mr. Beaver’s declaration to the Pevensie kids in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. He drew them in close and said to them quietly but affirmatively, “Aslan is on the move!” and how with that, winter came to an end. How did they know? Because the snow was melting.
The arrival of Jesus on the scene in Palestine signifies that the Kingdom of God has come and Satan’s rule is over. We now live in a world that is ruled by God and not the devil. We can live and reign with him and see his kingdom extended all over the world. Let us “Repent and believe the good news!”