It’s Still Good News!


After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ He said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ (Mark 1:14-15).

Mark was specific about the timing of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. There was no clash or competition between John and Jesus. John’s ministry was short and sharp. He had a job to do and he did it well. He was to introduce the Messiah and then get out of the way so as not to interfere with the greater work of Jesus. He would not to be a part of it. Jesus did not make him His first disciple. John was a prophet and his job was to declare the word of God.

God saw to it, through circumstances, that John was permanently removed and taken out of sight. John had given King Herod a very blunt message: “You are an adulterer!” and Herod was not impressed.  He had shacked up with his brother Philip’s wife. Whether he was actually married to her or not is not clear but, for argument’s sake let’s assume that he had married her.

Herodias, the adulterous wife, was a vicious woman. She had her knife in for John for telling it like it was. You see, what they had done was wrong whether they were believers in God or not. God’s moral law is not only for those who acknowledge Him. He has written His law into the conscience of every human being because His word is a reflection of who He is and a requirement for everyone. Herod imprisoned John and left him to rot in prison until Herodias’ moment came to move in for the kill.

Once John was out of the way, Jesus was free to step into the gap and pick up where John left off. The transition was smooth. John had announced that the rule of God was right there. Jesus declared it too but what did the people understand by this announcement?

For four hundred years there had been no word from God. There was no prophet to interpret the historical events in which His people were caught up. Israel had become sandwiched between the territories of two of Alexander the Great’s four generals who had inherited the Greek Empire after Alexander’s untimely death. They were continually harassed by their Greek overlords. They tried to throw off the oppressors and paid for it time and again. Eventually the influence of Greek culture and customs had infiltrated God’s people.

After Greece came Rome; and the people of God had to bend low under the oppression of Roman rule. Their land was overrun by Roman occupants – soldiers who ruthlessly kept the Israelites in check. They were well and truly under the rule of a godless and ruthless government. God, to them, had abandoned them. He was just not around any more.

First John and then Jesus stepped in with the “good news” that God was back. What did they make of this? Naturally they thought that He was either going to build up an army and lead a successful revolt against Rome or, if He were really the Messiah as John had insisted, He might even supernaturally get rid of the Romans and set up God’s kingdom in Israel again, just as in the days of David and Solomon. After all, hadn’t He supernaturally wiped out the Assyrian army in one night, all 186,000 of them?

Excitement rippled through Judea and even farther afield. The people flocked around John, willing and eager to identify with him and join his movement. Then John disappeared off the scene but the man he had baptised in the Jordan whom he declared to be the Messiah, took up the refrain: “God is back. He is here to rule again. Change the way you think. Stop being pessimistic and defeated and listen to me.”

What they did not hear was that Jesus was there to get rid of Rome. Did He ever say that? But that’s what they expected Him to do. God’s kingdom to them was Israel and they believed that Jesus had come to establish Israel as the greatest nation on earth again.

How sad that the expectations we put on God which, by the way, come from what we want and not from what He has said, lead to bitter disappointment. Instead of trusting Him for what He wants, we blame Him for not answering our prayers and we turn away from Him, disillusioned and frustrated.

What if we just trusted Him, full stop instead of trusting Him for what we demand? We would untie His hands and leave Him to free us from far greater bondage than our personal “Rome”.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Luella Campbell

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