Epiphany 3 – Series B
(24 January 2021)
Jonah 3:1–5, 10
1 Corinthians 7:29–31 (32–35)
The Lord Calls Us to Himself by the Preaching of Repentance in His Name
Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities and stretch forth the hand of Your majesty to heal and defend us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
When “the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time,” sending him to preach judgment against the great city of Nineveh, “Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord” (Jonah 3:1, 3). By this preaching, the people were brought to repentance. Because they “believed God,” as He spoke to them through His prophet, “they turned from their evil way” and were spared “the disaster that he had said he would do to them” (Jonah 3:5, 10). St. Paul also warns that “the appointed time has grown very short” (1 Corinthians 7:29). Therefore, while we live in this world and deal with it, we are not to cling to it, nor put our trust in it, for “the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31). Rather, give “your undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:35). When our Lord Jesus Christ comes and is proclaimed in the Gospel, “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:14–15). Therefore, He still calls men and sends them to become “fishers of men” with the net of that Gospel (Mark 1:17).
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand [near]; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege
The Evangelist Mark tells us that Jesus preached, the kingdom of God is at hand [Mk 1:15]. Jesus prefaces this proclamation of the nearness of God’s kingdom with the statement that the time is fulfilled. Jewish believers hearing Him say this would have realized He was referencing the fulfillment of God’s promise to send the Christ, His Son. Saint Paul describes this time of fulfillment: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons [Gal. 4:4,5]. The time was fulfilled, Christ the King was present; thus the kingdom of God is at hand.
The Christ is the King of the Jews, but even more He is the heavenly King of kings. When Christ the King is present, then all the blessings of His kingdom flow from and through Him. When the King is present, bestowing His wondrous, loving blessings, the kingdom then comes upon the recipients of such blessings. The “synoptic” Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) are replete with references to God’s Kingdom. In the Gospel of John, however, such references are noticeably absent, with the exception of our Lord’s confession before Pontius Pilate. Nonetheless in the Gospel of John the nearness of the Kingdom of God is actually being presented. When in John’s Gospel Jesus describes Himself as the way, the truth, the life, the resurrection, the Good Shepherd, the light of the world, and the like, He is actually describing the proximity of the Kingdom of God, a proximity found only in the King—the Christ, God’s Son. Wherever the King is, there God’s Kingdom is near.
All four Gospels describe the nearness of the Kingdom of God whenever they explain how the King showered people with innumerable miraculous healings, exorcisms, miraculous meals and the like. All four Gospels describe how Jesus bestowed the Holy Spirit, and how the pouring forth of the Spirit would be a culminating kingdom work of the Christ. This Spirit-bestowing Pentecost-event uniquely bespeaks the coming of God’s Kingdom. Luther would thus associate the very bestowal of the Holy Spirit with the coming of God’s Kingdom: God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit [Small Catechism, Lord’s Prayer, 2nd Petition]. God’s Kingdom continues to be near when the King breathes forth His Spirit through His Word and Sacraments, and people are then empowered to repent and believe the gospel.
The Kingdom of God would be uniquely and powerfully near as forgiveness would flow from and through the King. No wonder the words repent and believe in the gospel are directly linked to the proclamation of the nearness of the Kingdom of God: …the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel [Mk 1:15]. God’s people repent and believe because forgiveness flows from the King, a forgiveness later linked to Holy Baptism, Absolution and the Holy Supper—a forgiveness won at the King’s Cross upon which was nailed the informative placard, King of the Jews [Mk 15:26]. This forgiveness flowing from and through the crucified King, is at the heart of the Gospel. Such God-purchased forgiveness received by penitent believers, is the most powerful earthly presence of the Kingdom of God, the very heart of the Gospel. The Kingdom of God—centrally the forgiveness of sins—is truly at hand; by the Spirit’s power repent and believe this Gospel.
Finally, as surely as He is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness when His resurrected people realize the King face to face forever. The Kingdom of God is near; even so Come Lord Jesus!
Jesus Begins His ministry
Καὶ μετὰ τὸ παραδοθῆναι τὸν Ἰωάννην ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, - Mark 1:14
The handing over of John. Proclamation of a reality. In Mark Jesus is always facing the devil.
καὶ λέγων ὅτι Πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς καὶ ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ• μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ.
and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." - Mark 1:15
The fulfillment of time has come and the kingdom has appeared... It's all happening.
Compare Psalm. 2 and Mark 1
Jesus calls His first disciples -
Καὶ παράγων παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἶδεν Σίμωνα καὶ Ἀνδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφὸν Σίμωνος [e]ἀμφιβάλλοντας ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ, ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλιεῖς•
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. - Mark 1:16
Is this Bethsaida? (See last Sunday's Gospel)
καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς• Δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου, καὶ ποιήσω ὑμᾶς γενέσθαι ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων.
And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." - Mark 1:17
The sea (symbolic of humanity)they will be doing this casting the gospel.
καὶ εὐθὺς ἀφέντες τὰ δίκτυα ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ.
And immediately they left their nets and followed him. - Mark 1:18
The word makes the apostle. The word is powerful...they leave immediately.
καὶ προβὰς ὀλίγον εἶδεν Ἰάκωβον τὸν τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ καταρτίζοντας τὰ δίκτυα,
And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. - Mark 1:19
Mending = cleaning
καὶ εὐθὺς ἐκάλεσεν αὐτούς. καὶ ἀφέντες τὸν πατέρα αὐτῶν Ζεβεδαῖον ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ μετὰ τῶν μισθωτῶν ἀπῆλθον ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ.
And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. - Mark 1:20
They went after him...
They leave their father and the paid workers they left family and employment.
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The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software
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Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis