Mark Sermon # 2 January 14, 2018
Mark 1:14-20 “King Jesus Proclaims Radical Good News!”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Heard any good news lately? Nothing compares to what Jesus Christ announced one day in Galilee. Are you interested in hearing more? Come along with me and let’s listen in…
Notice a few things about the setting of Jesus’ proclamation before we get to the content of what King Jesus announced:
First, this happened after John was put into prison. Mark, the gospel writer, is giving us a hint of the suffering and persecution to come. The coming of God’s kingdom means spiritual warfare, as we see in Jesus being tempted by Satan (13) and Jesus’ frequent confrontations with those who were demon possessed (1:21-28, 3;22, 5:1-20). The arrival of God’s Kingdom in the person of King Jesus means war because Jesus is invading Satan’s occupied land; therefore we can expect that there will be casualties for those who are soldiers of the cross.
Second, notice the change in location from the desert wilderness (v. 12-13), a place of harshness and testing, to the area around the Sea of Galilee (vv. 16-20). Keep in mind that the sea, in the mindset and world-view of the Jews, was regarded as a place of danger. Think about the flood, the story of Jonah, and the storms in the Sea of Galilee that nearly drowned the disciples (4:35-41, 6:45-52). Therefore following Jesus will not be a walk in the park; we can expect challenges, risks, and danger.
Third, this is happening in Galilee! Jesus doesn’t make his epic proclamation in Jerusalem, the religious capital of the world. Jesus doesn’t announce it in Rome, the political capital of the known world. No. He makes this declaration in Galilee, in a region that was considered backwards, unsophisticated, and unimportant. Yet Jesus announces this Good News in Galilee, not only to fulfill the Scriptures (Isa. 9:1-2 “In the future He will glorify Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan… the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; and for those living in the shadow of death, a Light has dawned.”) He also announces His Good News in “Podunk” Galilee to show that this message is for those who know they need it; for those who are humbled and broken – not for those who think they are already good and righteous!
Therefore the setting for Jesus’ proclamation is the unexpected, as well as pointing to persecution, suffering, and danger. The Kingdom of God will not be a walk in the park!
Now let’s consider Jesus’ preaching:
I. King Jesus proclaims to all people a history-making, cosmic-shaking, and decision-demanding announcement of Good News! (14-15)
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 is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Notice three things about Jesus’ proclamation:
- This declaration is history-making.
Tim Keller writes that the word “gospel” meant “news that brings joy.” In Mark’s day, the word meant history-making, life-shaping news, as opposed to just daily news. It meant news of some event that changes things in a meaningful way; something that’s done for you that changes your status forever.
Now that John’s ministry is over, it was time for Jesus’ ministry to begin. Jesus is here! This was the moment that the entire Old Testament had looked forward to, and now it is here! God’s reign on earth was beginning! Jesus’ words and works were situated in a definite historic context of expectation and long-awaited fulfillment. William Lane comments: “By sovereign decision God makes this point in time the critical one in which all the moments of promise and fulfillment in the past find their significance in one awesome moment.”
The threshold of the great future has been reached; the door has been opened, and the prerequisites for the divine work of consummation are present, so that now the concluding drama of all history can start.
2. This pronouncement is cosmic-shaking
Jesus declares that because He, the incarnate Son of God, has appeared, therefore the kingdom of God is at hand; it has finally come near. This event shakes the universe like an earthquake of righteous power! William Lane, in his commentary on Mark, writes: “In announcing the Kingdom of God the accent falls upon God’s initiative and action… a distinct component of redemptive history. It belongs to the God who comes and invades history in order to secure man’s redemption…. God will act to radically impact men and women in their helpless and hopeless state of alienation and rebellion against Himself.” “It is Jesus’ own appearance which is the decisive event in the redemptive plan of God.” “In the person of Jesus men are confronted by the kingdom of God in its nearness, a faithful response to the proclamation of the gospel is imperative.” To put in in Star War terms, Jesus’ appearance and proclamation create “a disturbance in the force,” and that force is the kingdom of darkness about to be shaken!
3. This proclamation is decision-demanding.
The people are being called to a radical transformation, yet this Kingdom would not be an earthly, political, or military triumph, but rather an internal and personal transformation in the hearts of men and women, boys and girls. Therefore it demands a response, a decision.
Jesus makes very clear what our response must be: repent (turn/ reverse course) and believe (trust) in the Gospel (Good news). You cannot remain neutral in front of the Almighty King of kings! Either you bow before Him or you remain a rebel and a traitor.
But you might ask: “why should I reverse the course of my life and put my complete trust in the words and deeds of a man who lived 2,000 years ago? Why should Jesus’ proclamation demand a response of total allegiance to Him? Isn’t that asking a lot?
To fully appreciate the Good News of God’s Kingdom in Jesus and see why we must bow before Him, we need to realize that the full message includes Bad News and then Good News… for as R.C. Sproul said, “The gospel is only good news when we understand the bad news.”
The Bad News is that although we were created by God to live in a world in which all of our relationships were whole, good, and delightful (Shalom), all our relationships – with God, with ourselves, with our spouse, our family and our neighbors, and with the created world around us – have gone bad, like a gallon of month-old milk that is sour and smelly, and curdles in your coffee or tea. All our relationships have been bent; they are broken and distorted. We could say that we rejected God’s loving and sovereign claim on our lives, in a vain and foolish attempt to be our own selfish pigs, our king or queen of our domain; to establish our little fiefdom of “I, me, and my.” We became self-centered and self-absorbed, and that has destroyed all our relationships.
Tim Keller notes that “There’s nothing that makes you more miserable (or less interesting) than self-absorption.” (Where the world revolves around me and my needs and my complaints!) “When we decide to be our own center, our own king, everything falls apart: physically, socially, spiritually, and psychologically. We have left the dance. But we all long to be brought back in.
We long for the Good News solution to the bad news we are trapped in
This longing is embedded in all the legends of many cultures, and though the stories are all different they all have a similar theme. A true king will come back, slay the dragon, kiss us and wake us out of our sleep of death, rescue us from imprisonment in the tower, and lead us back into the dance. A true king will come back to put everything right and renew the entire world. The good news of the kingdom of God is this: Jesus is that true King.”
That’s why King Jesus has an authoritative claim on all of us. That claim is heard and understood in the preaching of the Gospel and in the direct commands of Jesus (to the spirits, and through His Word in the Scriptures).
That is why, as William Lane puts it: “Only through repentance can a man participate with joy in the kingdom as it breaks through on earth. Jesus accordingly calls us to a radical decision. In Jesus, we are confronted by the Word and Deeds of God; He Himself is the crucial term by which belief –or unbelief – come to fruition. Jesus proclaims the kingdom not so much to give content (at this point) but to convey a summons. Jesus stands before us as God’s final word of address in this the last hour.” Either you submit to God’s summons or you choose to remain hostile to God, loving the world more than God. There is no time to delay; each must choose.
King Jesus proclaims to all people a history-making, cosmic-shaking, and decision-demanding announcement of Good News, and the only way to take hold of it is by repenting of our sin and by believing the message of the gospel.
II. King Jesus calls His chosen ones to a life-changing, identity-altering, and fully-satisfying life of following Him. (16-20)
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”
Note four things here:
- Jesus call His chosen ones to follow Him
Note that Jesus calls people to follow Him, but that was not how it was done in Jewish tradition. Normally pupils chose which rabbis they wanted to follow; rabbis did not choose their followers. But Jesus has different type of authority. He takes the initiative with those He chooses to follow Him. In fact, you can’t follow Jesus as his disciple unless He first calls you!
- Jesus’ call to follow Him is life-changing.
Lane: “Jesus’ words to Simon and Andrew was remembered for its vividness and urgency. The call to come after someone implies discipleship, as the disciple breaks all other ties to follow his master as a servant.”
Jesus’s call meant that these four men – two sets of brothers – were to leave their nets and their father behind (not absolutely, but at this point). Jesus’ call upon your life and my life will always be life-changing, as it means that we leave our normal priorities and possessions; we die to our earthly security and to the priority of our families, in order to follow Him without reservation.
The account of Jesus’ call of these four men stresses the sovereign authority of Jesus’ call and the radical obedience of the brothers in responding to it. “So compelling is the claim of Jesus upon them that all prior claims lose their validity.” Another commentator notes that “Jesus commands as God commands… He makes of the fishermen something new, that which he wills.” The brothers commit themselves to follow Jesus in an exclusive sense.
- Jesus’ call to follow Him is identity-altering.
We know that although these two sets of brothers left their nets and their father, we later see them again fishing and relating to their families, so Jesus was not calling them to abandon all human ties and all human relationships. It was a matter of the priority of the call of Jesus. Yet what Jesus is saying is still disruptive.
Let me ask you: “Where do you get your identity from?” That is, if someone asks you, “Who are you?” where do you draw your answer from? In many cultures, you get your identity from your family, from your clan, your tribe, your nationality. Your last name is your main family identification: “Oh, you’re a Sanders. Oh, you’re one of the Prontnicki sons.” Think about the clans in Scotland and the different Tartans. Think about the tribes in Nigeria.
But in our culture, we tend to get our identity from what we do – our career, our occupation. “I’m a teacher. I’m a nurse. I’m a student.”
And what does Jesus do here with the identity of these four men he calls to follow Him? He gives them a new identity – as followers of Jesus; He gives them new careers – as fishers of men.
They leave their fishing and they leave their father in order to follow Jesus as the King! That’s drastic! That’s disruptive! That’s life-changing and identity-altering… which is what the Gospel of the Kingdom of God really is! All other relationships, all other attachments, all other work takes a back seat to being a follower of Jesus Christ, in this Kingdom of God.
- Jesus’ call to follow Him is fully-satisfying.
Notice as well that following Jesus in the Kingdom of God is not a means to an end, it is the goal itself! That is, you and I are not to follow Jesus because it will help my career or make me a better husband or wife, or because it will help me be a better student or athlete. No. Following Jesus is never a means to an end. He will not be used by you or me to help us accomplish our goals. As Tim Keller writes, “If He calls you to follow Him, He must be the goal.” We will be fully satisfied in following Jesus, because we were made to find our ultimate joy in Him alone.
As John Piper has said: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
My friends, the gospel of the Kingdom of God is not good advice from which you can pick and choose what you like. The Gospel is not a buffet table at a restaurant where we take what appeals to us and leave the rest. No. The Gospel is the Proclamation of the King of Kings that we must believe, trust, embrace and follow with all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our strength.
The Gospel is the wondrous Good News that you can’t earn your way to God, because Jesus has already done it for you. It’s an amazing announcement of God’s grace and mercy to us, through all that Jesus Christ has done for us.
Kent Hughes comments: “Christ came with a radical message and then a radical call, and these four men responded in radical obedience. Think about what their obedience meant for them – the changes, the challenges, the disruptions, the wonder and awe… and yet they had little idea of all that when they began. They just knew that Jesus had called them, and they had to obey and follow Him.
“Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
Let me ask you: “Are you following Jesus? Are you entrusting your entire life into His hands?”