Happy New Year! Welcome to a new year of Foundations Podcasts from STC Sheffield. My name is Mick and alongside my wife Tricia we have the great privilege of leading STC. Each day Monday to Friday members of our STC team offer a reflection on a Bible passage, a prayer and a song of worship – a great way to build Godly Foundations in our lives as we follow Jesus.
We began last September with reflection through letters written by a man called Paul on how the early church grew and attracted so many people with its message of love and new life found in Jesus Christ. We took a short break from this teaching in December to hear again the Christmas story of Jesus coming into our world. Next week we return to Paul’s letters when my colleague Liam brings his reflection on the letter to the church in Ephesus, but we begin this new year with a focus on our personal walk with Jesus as we consider His words to us in Mark’s gospel. Today’s passage is Mark 1:1-20; you can hear the whole passage read if you keep listening after the worship song, but our focus today will be on verses 14 -15.
This gospel was written by a young man called John Mark. In Acts 12:12 we read that the early church met at his mother’s house and in later life Mark travelled with Paul and two other friends called Barnabas and Peter. Some believe much of this gospel is taken from Peter’s first hand stories of Jesus that Mark heard from Peter.
Mark was written between AD 58 and AD 70, about 30 years after the resurrection of Jesus and it’s written for ordinary everyday people like you and me. This gospel is a real action packed ‘ripping yarn’ – fast moving, exciting, relevant and real with amazing stories of Jesus as he begins his ministry. Jesus has spent the first 30 years of his life in the small town of Nazareth but he will spend the next three years travelling the land speaking about the Kingdom of God – the Good News, a new loving way to live life!
As we begin Mark we read that Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist (v9) then blessed by God (v10-11) before being tested in the desert by the devil (v12-13). An exciting beginning! There is so much in this passage but today’s reflection is from one verse, v15 “The time has come,” Jesus said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
The time has come The New Testament was written in Greek, the world language of its day and there are two Greek words which denote the word ‘time’. The first is ‘chronos’ which describes the passage of time and the second is ‘kairos’ denoting an appointed time. A simple example; you might say that the actual time is now 7.30am (chronos) but that it is also the appointed time for breakfast (kairos). Jesus is saying here that God’s appointed time has come.
You may remember a few week ago reflections on Isaiah 9 in our Advent Podcast, words describing the coming of Jesus ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given’. Seven hundred and forty years before his birth, the prophet speaks of the coming of Christ who will bring a new way of living, a new Kingdom of love that will change lives and nations. Then, at the end of the Old Testament nothing! Four hundred silent years before the story begins again with the coming of Jesus whose birth we celebrated just a few days ago at Christmas. This child has now grown into a man and says that the waiting is over, the time has now come, God’s appointed time for a new way to live.
As we begin this new year I wonder what you are waiting for? A new job, a new house, a new relationship or perhaps a new beginning. The Lord is speaking to you and me as we begin 2018 – the time has come, repent (turn back to God) and believe the Good News. All things are possible with God.
Lord Jesus, as I begin this New Year I offer you my hopes and my dreams; the challenges and the opportunities that lay before me. It’s 2018, the time has come to commit to your ways in my life. Bless my family and those I love and bless me as I commit this year to you. Amen.
READING: MARK 1:1-20
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way – a voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”’
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the River Jordan. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt round his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: ‘After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’
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. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.