“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
— Mark 1:15 (CSB – Read the chapter)
Jesus said a lot of things. At the end of John’s Gospel, the apostle includes a note that he only presented a sampling of what Jesus did and said. Speaking only somewhat hyperbolically, he observed that if he had written down everything, it would have filled several books. But, Jesus was a teacher. That was His primary mission and goal. For all of the things He said, though, there was one big idea that beat at the heart of all of His messages.
The thing about the Gospel is that at its core it is remarkably simple. That’s something that sets Christianity apart from most of the other religions of the world. They are all complex. You learn a little bit at the start and then it gets more detailed and complex as you go. And the complexity comes from the founder, not the followers. Oh, the followers added their own complexities as followers often do (and Jesus’ followers are no exception to this), but the founder of Christianity made it simple, not complex.
And what is this simple core? We see it right here. When Jesus started teaching, His message was simply this: the kingdom of God is here, repent and believe.
Now, every teaching has a context and this one is no exception. The Jewish people had been waiting on the fulfillment of God’s promise to renew them and make them a dominant kingdom on earth once again. They would be God’s glorious kingdom. That’s why Jesus spoke in the language of a kingdom.
The trouble was, what He meant by a kingdom and what they understood were not necessarily the same thing. In fact, they just weren’t the same thing. That’s why Jesus had to spend so much time casting a vision of what He meant versus what they expected. But no matter how much explanation He or His early followers added to it, the simple core never changed. The kingdom of God has come near, repent and believe. Everything else is commentary.
But what exactly does this mean? Well, that’s what the rest of the Gospel helps us to understand. But for now, let’s put it like this: God has begun reclaiming what is His. He will win. He will have what is His. If you want to be a part of this, you need only do two things. Repent of your past efforts to resist His rule—for you have resisted His rule (otherwise you’d already be in His kingdom). Then, believe that His kingdom is coming and adjust your life accordingly. Jesus’ message really is that simple.
I wonder: Do you know it? Have you embraced it? Have you even considered it? As Jesus Himself said, this is good news. Give it a look. You’ll be glad you did. I think that’s a pretty good place to stop today.