Mark assumes readers know that John has been arrested and put in prison. His public role is over and Jesus’ one begins immediately with the dramatic proclamation of the ‘good news of God’. Notice this great phrase: – the gospel is of God and belongs to God. It’s dramatic because the ‘the time has come’. Everything in the long history of Israel has been pointing to this moment. In Jesus, the hopes of Israel and the world are unfolding.
And at the centre of his mission is the kingdom of God. The challenge for listeners is to listen, repent and believe that God’s promises for Israel are being fulfilled at last.
Mark compresses the stories of those that first respond to this invitation – Simon, Andrew and James and John. And the kingdom is announced with power. It is an evil spirit who senses who Jesus is – the holy one of God. Immediately the question of Jesus’ identity is surfacing. The subsequent healing again prompts discussion of Jesus’ identity. Who is this teacher and healer?
The healings at Capernaum and are ‘simple’ responses of power, mercy and grace to people in need. This is the good news of the kingdom demonstrated. Yet it is done so ‘matter of factly’ without sensationalism, yet was clearly sensational as the villagers’ response indicates. Repeatedly in Mark, Jesus is pursued by crowds, a ‘Palestinian celebrity’ who seeks solitude not adulation. Jesus is devoid of ego. He actively discourages those healed to spread the news. His focus is elsewhere and it is not merely local. The kingdom begins to be preached and enacted throughout Galilee by a Messiah filled with compassion and power.
Prayer: We give thanks that the good news of the gospel originates in the goodness of God and rejoice that that his kingdom has broken into this world, to give hope and healing to all who repent before, trust in and follow the holy one of God – our Lord Jesus Christ.