A New Possibility
(Lectionary Starters)

Third Sunday after Epiphany, Year A
January 26, 2003
Mark 1:14-20
Jim Killen, a minister of the United Methodist Church, Beaumont, Texas

Could you use a hope transfusion? Are you ready to get excited about a new possibility? Would you listen if some credible person came telling the news that something important is happening that can make a really big and good difference in your life and in your world? If you are ready for any of these things, you would be wise to pay attention to today’s scripture lesson. It tells us that Jesus came bringing just that kind of message. And the words of Jesus contained in this passage are a summary of the essential message of Jesus as it is represented in the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke in our Bibles. Think about that! This is the message of Jesus in a nutshell. Jesus came bringing good news about a new possibility, a new hope. And the message is still as fresh and as relevant to us today as it was in the days when he preached it. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15). Without going into much of the historical background, let’s try to analyze this statement and see what it can mean to us.

I. “The time is fulfilled.”

It is true that there is a lot of biblical and historical background to the idea that Jesus came at just the right time in the history of the world. But let’s ask another question. Is this the right time for a new possibility in your life? You may really not think it is yet. You may be so thoroughly convinced that you have everything going your way — or at least that you know how to get everything going your way and that you can handle it — that you are not interested in a new possibility, at least not interested enough to make the changes a new possibility would call for. You may feel the same way about the world you live in, either that it is all O.K. or that you know how to fix it and can do it. If you feel that way, you are probably not ready for the message of Jesus yet. This may not be “the fullness of time” for you. In that case, remember what we are saying for future reference, in case you feel differently some day.

But if you are not satisfied with your life and know that you don’t know how to make it all that it can be, if you are anxious about things that are going on in your world and don’t see anything happening that can fix it, then you may be ready to be open to a new possibility.

II. The Kingdom of God

Most of us don’t know a whole lot about kingdoms, at least not about the old fashioned kind of kingdom where everyone depends upon the king to protect and provide and govern and in which the king’s will is law. We have never lived in such a situation. But that is ok. We know enough about it to understand what it can mean as a picturesque way of describing a new possibility, a way of life in which everything is built around God, everything depends upon God, everything is governed by the will of God. That is what Jesus is talking about.

But Jesus is not just speaking hypothetically. He is not saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if . . .” He is saying that God is the most important of all realities, the one around whom everything is built, the one whose will ultimately will shape everything. If we are wise, we will learn to reorganize our lives and, insofar as we can, the life of our world, in harmony with the truth about all reality.

One other affirmation is important to help us see the shape of that new possibility. God loves us — all of us. And God wants us to live trusting his love and loving ourselves, each other and God. Stretch your imagination to visualize all that can mean.

III. Has come near

Jesus is telling us that new possibility is a live possibility for each of us and for our world right now. It always is. Look around and you will see some living the life of the new possibility right now under all sorts of circumstances. You can do it too. Imagine what your world would look like if it was organized around trust and love. Get excited about that possibility. Is there anything you could do to move your world in that direction?

IV. Repent and believe the good news.

That is the “so what” of the message. That is what we should do about it. There may indeed be some grief when we realize that we have been putting our life together all wrong. But “repent” doesn’t mean “grovel and cry”. It means, “Get ready to make some changes.” Believe that it really is true that the God who is God loves us and wants us to live in love. Then let that belief reshape your life. Do that, and you will know that you have found something to be really happy about.

Share This On: