“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.”
When I was a young pastor, an older minister advised me: “George, the main things in Scripture are the plain things; and the plain things are the main things.”
That is certainly the case with Jesus. He never bothered to talk about a Bible code as a means of discerning hidden things in Scripture. In fact, none of the things we really need to know are hidden at all—God’s Word completely reveals them.
Jesus began His ministry in the synagogues of Galilee by focusing on the main things and the plain things. He evidently repeated the same message everywhere He went, because when Mark wrote his gospel thirty years later, he still remembered Jesus’ four-points.
First, the time has come. While others were looking for the Messiah to bring a political kingdom, Jesus instead brought a kingdom that was internal rather than external. His kingdom is voluntarily received and not imposed from without. Do you know that on this very day God desires to insert a piece of the future age—an age of unbounded love, joy, and peace—into your life? Then His kingdom will be within you!
Second, the kingdom of God is near. How near?
Perhaps you are passing through a difficult season in your life. You wish you could either get it over with or go on to be with the Lord. But, Jesus is telling you that His kingdom is present with you this day. It is near, not far. It is at hand.
His rule enters this present moment. While you may long for His kingdom in the age to come, He longs for His kingdom to rule in you today. He wants you to turn your thoughts, emotions, moods, and relationships over to Him. He desires to be Lord in you!
￼￼The first two points of Jesus’ sermon in the synagogues of Galilee deal with God’s activity: the time has come and the kingdom is at hand. The last two points deal with our response: (1) repent and (2) believe the good news.
The word repent is from the Greek word that means to change your mind. How so? Our thoughts and way of life need to conform to Jesus’ way of life. As His followers, we know that forgiveness of sin, salvation, and eternal life reside only in Him. There is no other way to God. Education, religion, philosophy, or material wealth will not save us. Repentance means we throw away our false ideas of relating to God and embrace the life of Jesus.
Repent has sometimes been called the first word of the gospel because it is where John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter (Acts 2:38), and Paul (Acts 26:20) all began. It is the starting point of the Christian life.
Finally, we are to believe the good news, the gospel. The good news is that God sent His Son to earth to teach us how to live and to pardon our sins through His death on the cross so that we might have eternal life. The good news is that defeat, despair, and death never have the last word because through His resurrection from the dead, Jesus is Victor!
A Prayer: Lord, there are days when there is no news or there is only bad news. Help me to see that every day You bring good news: that I am personally known to You, deeply loved, and embraced eternally.
Excerpted from Dr. Wood’s book, Fearless: How Jesus Changes Everything, available from Vital Resources.