Mark 1:14-20

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

After Jesus' temptation and testing in the wilderness, he inaugurates his mission. This is the story about that inauguration. It begins with a brief summary of Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom of God. This takes place after John was arrested, so the implication is that John was Jesus' mentor and that the baptism of Jesus by John was a transformative experience in Jesus' life. The note about John's arrest is also a little harbinger of what is to follow for Jesus. The allusion that begins

Jesus' proclamation is an allusion of what is at stake. This is the beginning of a life-and-death battle with the powers of evil.Jesus' proclamation is of a new age, a new time in history. The spirit of this story is the fulfillment of hope for a new government in the world, a new kingdom that will transform the balance of power in the world. Jesus’ proclamation is the fulfillment of six hundred years of waiting by the people of Israel. This new government is imminent, near at hand. The response that he invites from people is to turn their heads around. That's what "repent" means. It means to literally turn your head in a different direction so that all things can be seen and experienced in a new way. The spirit of this proclamation is an invitation to see with new eyes.

Jesus’ words are also a verbal thread that connects with the story of John's baptism. John came proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Because of its context, this turning around is also related to the forgiveness of sins. It is turning away from the sins of the past so that people can begin a new life. At the core of this repentance is belief and confidence in this new age and the good news. Jesus invites his listeners, that is those who are hearing Mark’s story, to believe in the good news, the euangelion with which the Gospel begins. The gospel is good news about Jesus. It is also the good news of Jesus, that is, the good news that Jesus proclaims. Jesus’ gospel of God is the announcement of a new balance of power. Whether this means a new government and a free and independent Jewish state or a new balance of power in the spiritual universe is ambiguous at this point in the story. But the immediate reference is to the power of forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation that Jesus recognizes and sets loose in the world.

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