SYNOPSIS – Jesus began to announce the arrival of the kingdom of God following the arrest of John the Baptist– Mark 1:14-15.
Jesus did not begin to proclaim the impending Kingdom of God until after the arrest of John the Baptist. This was indicative of the opposition and adversity that would characterize his ministry. At the time, the region of Palestine consisted of three territories – Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. The latter was the largest and covered most of northern Palestine. Galilee had a mixed population of Jews and Gentiles.
Unlike John, Jesus began his public ministry in the towns and villages of Galilee – And unlike the prophets of ancient Israel, the mission of the Messiah did NOT begin or center in the city of Jerusalem or the Temple, the very heart of the Jewish religion – (Matthew 4:13).
The reaction to him by the local population to Jesus. Though unsure of who he was, many responded enthusiastically and flocked to hear him. In contrast to the crowds, from the very start, the religious leaders from Jerusalem were offended by his teachings and deeds.
(Mark 1:14-15) – “And after John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the glad-message of God and saying — The season is fulfilled, And the kingdom of God hath drawn near — Repent and have faith in the glad-message.”
Jesus was not a Pharisee, Scribe, or a member of the Essenes, nor did he belong to the priestly class. He had no connection to the Temple or rabbinical training. Nonetheless, he entered village synagogues outside of Jerusalem to proclaim the kingdom of God and, in doing so, he astounded all who heard him – “For he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes.”
On his own initiative, he called disciples to leave their homes and livelihoods to follow him. Jesus had authority over demons and diseases. He had the authority not only to heal lepers but to touch them without contracting ritual impurity – (Mark 1:16-45).
The gospel of Mark stresses how Jesus announced the “good news” of the Kingdom. The time to repent and believe the gospel had arrived and the “kingdom of God was at hand.” While Mark does not define the “kingdom” at this point, the phrase serves to summarize his teachings.
The public ministry of the Messiah began only after the arrest of John by Herod Antipas, one of the sons of Herod the Great. He was half Samaritan and half Idumæan – He had no Jewish blood. His wife, Herodias, was formerly married to his brother, Philip. She was also the daughter of another half-brother and son of Herod the Great, Aristobulus. This meant Herodias was the niece of Herod, which compounded his violation of the Mosaic Law. According to the gospel of Luke, John was arrested for criticizing Herod over his unlawful marriage – (Luke 3:19-20).
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus went to Galilee after the arrest of John. He did not do so to escape Herod’s jurisdiction – Galilee was part of his domain. The text states only that he went into Galilee to proclaim the gospel:
(Matthew 4:12-17) – “And hearing that John had been delivered up, he retired into Galilee; and forsaking Nazareth, he came and fixed his dwelling in Capernaum, which was by the lake — within the bounds of Zebulun and Naphtali: that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the lake-way across the Jordan — Galilee of the nations, The people that was sitting in darkness, a great light beheld — and on them who were sitting in land and shade of death, Light rose on them. From that time began Jesus to be making proclamation, and saying — Repent ye, for the kingdom of the heavens hath drawn near.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
In Mark, the Greek verb rendered “handed over” is theologically-loaded – (paradidōmi) – Repeatedly, it is used for the “handing over” of the faithful to abuse by religious and governmental authorities. At least ten times, Jesus warned that he himself would be “handed over” to the Temple and the Gentile authorities for trial and execution. In the present passage, the verb is in the passive voice, meaning, the subject of the verb (John) was the recipient of the action – He was the one “handed over” for arrest, but this was in accordance with the plan of God – (Mark 9:31, 10:33).
The gospel accounts nowhere suggest John the Baptist was “handed over” by any of his disciples or companions, unlike Jesus, who would be betrayed later by Judas. By coordinating the start of the mission of Christ with the arrest of John, Mark indicates that the public ministry of Jesus did not begin until the ministry of John ended. The preparatory work of the Baptist was complete; therefore, the work of the Coming One could begin.
The setting of the arrest meant the gospel began in adversity. John withdrew to the wilderness to administer a baptism of repentance. In contrast, Jesus traveled to the populous territory of Galilee to proclaim the “good news” to all who would hear.
In Galilee, Jesus proclaimed the “gospel of God.” The phrase is applied to him only here in Mark. Otherwise, the term is found in the writings of Paul and Peter. Its use here may be evidence that ‘Mark’ was a companion of Paul, Peter, or both – (Romans 1:1, 15:16, 2 Corinthians 11:7, 2 Thessalonians 2:2, 2:8-9, 1 Peter 4:17).
Jesus declared that the “appointed time” was fulfilled. The Greek term used is kairos or “season, time, the opportune time, appointed time” (Strong’s – #G2540). The verb rendered “fulfilled” is in the perfect verb tense and signifies an action completed in the past with continuing results into the present. His announcement is a verbal allusion to a passage from the book of Daniel:
(Daniel 12:4-9) – “But, thou, Daniel, close up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end — many will run to and fro, and knowledge shall abound. Then I, Daniel, looked, and lo! two others, standing — one on this side of the bank of the river and one on that side of the bank of the river. And one said to the man clothed with linen, who was upon the waters of the river, How long shall be the end of the wonders? And I heard the man clothed with linen who was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left unto the heavens, and sware by him that liveth unto times age-abiding — For a set time and times and a half, and when the dispersion of a part of the holy people is brought to an end, then shall come to an end all these things. And I heard but could not understand — so I said, O my lord! what shall be the issue of these things? Then said he, Go thy way, Daniel; for closed up and sealed are the words, until the time of the end” – (The Emphasized Bible).
A repeated theme in the visions of Daniel was the promise of a future kingdom and the time when the saints would inherit it. The theological concept of the “kingdom of God” found in the synoptic gospels is derived, at least in part, from the book of Daniel – for example:
- (Daniel 2:44-45) – “And in the days of those kings shall the God of the heavens set up a kingdom which, to the ages, shall not be destroyed, and the kingdom to another people shall not be left — it shall break in pieces and make an end of all these kingdoms, but itself shall stand to the ages.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
- (Daniel 7:13-14) – “I continued looking in the visions of the night when lo! with the clouds of the heavens, one like a son of man was coming — and unto the Ancient of days he approached, and before him they brought him near; and unto him were given dominion and dignity and kingship, that all peoples, races and tongues unto him should do service — his dominion was an age-abiding dominion, which should not pass away, and his kingdom that which should not be destroyed.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
- (Daniel 7:27) – “And the kingdom, and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under all the heavens shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Highest — his kingdom is an age-abiding kingdom, and all the dominions unto him will render service, and show themselves obedient.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
According to Jesus, the kingdom had “drawn near” or was “at hand.” The Greek verb engizō means, “to approach, draw near” (Strong’s – #G1448). The sense is of something that is at hand – imminent. The announcement indicated the promised kingdom was about to arrive in the person and ministry of Jesus, which is why his proclamation was “good news.”
The “kingdom of God” stresses the rule or sovereignty of God, something beyond just geographical jurisdiction. The Greek word for “kingdom” can be rendered “dominion,” “realm,” or “reign,” which may better represent the idea – The dominion or reign of God.
How should individuals respond to the announcement of the coming Kingdom? First, Jesus called men and women to “repent.” Second, he summoned all who would to “believe” the good news. Both Greek verbs are in the imperative mood – The mood of command.
Like John the Baptist, Jesus proclaimed the imminence of the “kingdom.” Its approach necessitated repentance and faith. Instead of emphasizing water baptism, he called for faith in the kingdom, although this does not mean he did away with baptism.
The approach of the kingdom was “good news” for some, but a sign of impending doom for others. A person’s destiny depended on his or her response to the gospel. To inherit the kingdom required faith and repentance. “Repentance” is a turning away from something – “Belief” is what one turns to – Faith in the Gospel.
The “kingdom of God” becomes a major theme in the gospel of Mark and develops as the narrative progresses. Especially relevant are the “kingdom parables” found in Chapter 4. The evidence of its arrival was provided by the ministry of Jesus – In his preaching, healings, and exorcisms – (Matthew 12:28, Mark 1:23-45, Luke 11:20).