The time is
here and now.
After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’
Mark’s rendition of Jesus’ time in the desert is very short. It also focuses us on one of Mark’s key themes; Jesus’ ministry is confrontational. Think of the very real confrontations with sin, temptation, and wild beasts that Jesus engaged in in the desert. Mark shows Jesus as the One who had come to combat and defeat the forces determined to counteract God’s will for our lives and our well-being.
Mark does not portray Jesus as sent to fight human ignorance, religious or political authority. He wasn’t that kind of revolutionary. Of course those things existed, but they were only the symbols and tools of what Jesus was really confronting. Jesus came to confront the evil, the negative spiritual force that oppresses human bodies and minds and defy human attempts to subdue them.
Jesus’ experience in the wild and untamed wilderness symbolizes the difference between God’s way of life and the wilderness of life without God. The desert shows us how Jesus confronted and defeated the powers of chaos and destruction. He walked out of the desert as a victor and the bringer of God’s kingdom. He began to proclaim the kingdom to all who would hear Him.
Jesus proclamation of the in-breaking of God’s kingdom announces the arrival of God’s future for humanity. This will be a new era and a new state of affairs, one in which God rules and we no longer have to use merely human efforts to defeat evil. With the expression kingdom of God Jesus does not speak of taking people away to a new place in a far-off land. He tells those who will listen that they have the power to build the kingdom if they work in and with Him. He invites us into the kingdom’s awakening and gives us the means (by grace) to make it real and complete. The old ways and the old rules no longer have power. Evil, sin, negative spiritual forces hold no sway over us because Jesus is victorious. He has won the confrontation.
As we will see through Lent, and in particular on Good Friday, Jesus’ revolution is dangerous. As members of His kingdom and its operatives we are working to destroy the last vestiges of sin, evil, the negative spiritual force. We are the forces of the kingdom. Those tied to worldly ways and mores will resist and hate us. They are the forces of the untamed wilderness. They fight against transforming the world. The time is here and now. We must be confident kingdom builders, assured of our victory in Jesus and ready to transform all we encounter.