The Third Sunday after the Epiphany (B)
“After John… Jesus”
January 21, 2018
Sermon Text: Mark 1:14-20
Peace be unto you from our revealed Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
He begins his gospel account connecting all that is to be found in this account with what was already prophesied and said in the Old Testament.
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'” (Mark. 1:1-3)
St. Mark talks about the work of John the Baptizer, the forerunner of Christ and truly, how important was his work in preparing the way for Jesus. That work is done though… completed… finished… in our Lord’s actual coming and the start of His ministry… Jesus’ ministry, Jesus’ baptism by John and then the time our Lord spent in the wilderness.
John’s work is also seen as done by the very fact that Mark speaks of his arrest and emphasizes the transition from John to Jesus… from the forerunner to the long awaited One… from the faithful servant of the Lord to the Lord Himself.
We hear St. Mark say, “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)
After what John said, we hear what Jesus said and the message… the proclamation is identical. As is the person really, essentially saying it… declaring it.
Yes, John said these things, but we know it was the Lord speaking through Him. And now we hear the same from the very lips of Christ, the very Word now incarnate… the very Word made flesh, now in the flesh who begins His ministry and does so by laying out for us and all the world the very sum and substance of that ministry in one simple phrase which we would do well to consider, yes, now… but in our own devotions and prayers… in our own lives and this daily. Why? Because what is contained in this divine statement is your life and mine… it forms and fashions our lives and that of all believers who sojourn here below.
Our Lord said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Here, Jesus shares two glorious facts… two wonderful realities and certainties right up front. First of all, he declares that “the time is fulfilled” between the divine promise of a savior which the Lord God made in the Garden… and the fulfillment of the same in the actual Savior coming and now declaring this very statement to us and all the world.
The time is fulfilled. No more looking. No more waiting. No more anticipating. The Savior of the world has come and He is none other, no other, than Jesus!
Sadly, it has been a long time since anyone has been looking, waiting anticipating the coming of the Messiah. And this includes the Jews. Why? Because the world, Satan and one’s own sinful flesh have convinced the majority of the world that no savior… no redeemer… is needed.
You do not need a rescuer if you believe that there is nothing from which you need rescuing. You do not need a rescuer if you believe that you are fine and all is well. Certainly, you need no one to rescue you from your sins and the consequences of the same if you do not believe you have sinned in the first place.
That yes, one can always make better choices, but in the end, it is all good because you are essentially good and what you do is good.
Needless to say, one can pretty much put a positive spin on anything. And that includes abortion… the killing of infants in the womb… the dismembering of the same… the violent and painful removal of a little one who, up to that point, was being nurtured, fed and protected in their mother’s womb. But no longer. And they are no longer.
That’s ok though. The pregnancy was a mistake. It wasn’t in the plans of the mother and father and what they wanted. And besides, we are not talking about a real person here even though science and medicine clearly say otherwise.
And you gotta love the fact that abortion is keeping down the population of the world and especially that of the “undesirables” – you know, people of certain races and color, people with disabilities, people with “syndromes” and other maladies, people who… well… are at the “shallow end of the gene pool.” All of this makes more room for us. It frees us up because, after all… it is all about the Me, Myself and I.
In this midst of this garbage, we hear Jesus say, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Fact two is the certainty that the kingdom of God is at hand. The kingdom of Satan, the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of sin and death… all defeated by Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. THIS is the Gospel that we believe in!
There is but one kingdom. There has, in reality, only been one kingdom through time and eternity. And it is God’s. It is a kingdom not of this earth and yet extends throughout the same… throughout the universe for that matter.
A kingdom… one kingdom with one King. His name is Jesus whom the Father has “highly exalted… and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
Our Lord uses the term that the kingdom of God is “at hand” in that it is certainly the Hand that now rules and governs, controls and provides, but will do so fully and completely on the Last Day when all who are part of the devil’s kingdom are thrown into hell which shall be locked shut for all eternity.
That day is coming. That day is, as our Lord declares, “at hand.” The Day of Judgement… the day of reckoning… so swift and complete… so immediate… so permanent. No more chances. No more opportunities.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Two immutable facts shared by our Lord and this followed by two divine commands.
In light of the time having been fulfilled and that the kingdom of God is at hand… our Lord, out of pure love… He who would have no one perish eternally… pleads with us and all the world to repent and believe.
Repent of all your sins. Hold nothing back, neither harbor anything. Confess it all. Repent of it all. Lay it before the Lord and ask for His forgiveness… ask that all your transgressions… all of my transgressions… may be blotted out in the precious blood of Jesus.
Repent and as our Lord says, believe the Gospel. Hear your Savior say, “Believe in me. Believe that I love you. Believe that I died for you. Believe that in me your sins are forgiven and that you have been thoroughly washed clean, made clean in me.
Hear His Word declare to us the wonderful fact that there is now “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
Hear, my friends. Believe and be at peace in Jesus. All is well… for us and all of the faithful… in Jesus! Amen.
Indeed, may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“After John… Jesus” 1/21/18 The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL