Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Here’s something I’ve long puzzled about: Is “the good news of the kingdom of God” an announcement, or an invitation? And I think I’ve finally come up with a satisfactory answer.
The answer is yes.
Jesus’s message to the power brokers of the day is pretty clearly that he is all outta bubblegum.
He is here to announce that change is coming — indeed, that it is here, that it is at hand — that there is a new way of doing things, and it is going to disturb their conventions, it will not align with their agendas, and it will flip just about every apple cart of expectation they have ever built.
He’s here to tell the scribes that not only are people gonna get healed, their sins are going to be forgiven. Even worse, they won’t be forgiven because of any burnt offering or whatnot, but simply because Jesus says so.
Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Jesus is here to say to the Sabbath enforcers that the Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:26) So back off. If his children are hungry, let them eat.
Jesus is here to preach and teach and heal. He calls out the bad actors and challenges the religious leaders, because those are the folks who are in the way of this coming Kingdom.
Jesus isn’t asking anyone’s permission to pretty please let my Kingdom come. He is proclaiming that it’s here, so get ready.
This Kingdom is unstoppable.
But Jesus is not just making an announcement. Because — well, that’s not how his Kingdom works.
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
~ Mark 1:16-20
This is not a one man show. Not even when that man is the Son of God.
This is an announcement of a partnership.
Now, is it a partnership because Jesus can’t do it without us? That seems unlikely.
Is it a partnership because Jesus doesn’t want to do it without us?
Because this is what we were made for from the beginning?
That seems a lot more plausible.
Friends, you were made in the very image of God. That’s heavy stuff.
I read a book several years ago (which I no longer have, sadly) called Continuous Outpouring by Harold Best. It’s a wonderful book about worship, but it applies to so much more. And one of the points Best makes best (ha!) is that having a God who exists within a Trinity means that this God lives in community with God’s self.
Even before God thought of you and me, God existed in a continuous outpouring of love and community and creativity into God’s own self.
And when God created people, God created them to live in that same community of love and creativity with each other. That’s part of what being made in God’s image is all about.
That’s why there are so many “one anothers” in the Bible. They are everywhere. I mean, just look at this:
We may forget this from time to time, but Jesus reminds us that we are in this together. This is why fishing in the old world was a great metaphor for what he had in mind. Because fishing then was not one guy sitting up in the holler with a pole, a lure, and a six pack. It was a team, on a boat, wrestling with nets, probably all night, utterly dependent on each other.
And let me tell you, as a former sailor, that last point can’t be overstated. The sea was and is a dangerous place to be. So this depending on one another isn’t just some lame theoretical hippie bullshit. People died and die on the sea because they and those around them are careless.
But working together, these fishermen could accomplish so much more than they ever could alone.
Also, you know what else you catch when you fish for people instead of fish?
You catch more fishermen.
And that’s how you change the world.
That is what the coming Kingdom is like. And we get to be part of it.
How cool is that?