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Stories of Jesus

Chapter 4: The Stories Part One, Jesus before Easter


A Jesus story: In service to the Kingdom

Mark reports the end of John the Baptist’s mission in half a sentence—“after Herod had John imprisoned….” Then Jesus gets to work. Probably Jesus was a more or less quiet disciple of John up to that time. He would have heard John urging people to repent of their sins and be baptized in preparation for a day of judgment soon to come. Jesus seems to have carried out his own baptizing mission for a while, but his message adds some important notes to John’s. Mark and his community remembered and passed on these words of Jesus:

This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel (i.e. good news). (Mark 1:15)

Think about these phrases: “the time of fulfillment,” “the kingdom of God” “good news.” It doesn’t sound as if Jesus is talking about something he’s going to do. These are things that are happening. Jesus announces them. It sounds like Jesus is anticipating some radically new things, and even he doesn’t know quite what. Jesus participates in them in sometimes surprising ways, but it’s not Jesus’ show. I think Jesus would have applied to himself some words that he spoke to his disciples:

When you have done all you were commanded to do, say, “We are worthless servants. We only did what we were obliged to do.” (Luke 17:10)

Thinking about the main point: Jesus serves the Kingdom that is coming. He doesn’t own it. Is “owner of the show,” the “one in control” a good way to think about God? Does the world hold surprises even for God?

On to The Party