“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Who is this Jesus? Where does he come from? But, without any birth stories, without any background information about him, Mark, after this short opening, immediately and abruptly drives us into the wilderness, where we meet John the Baptist, who is proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and saying, someone will come to baptize people with the Holy Spirit. And then, Mark drives us into the Jordan river, where we see the Jesus Christ who comes to be baptized. After the baptism of Jesus, we see, the Spirit immediately drives him out into the wilderness. Then, as if Mark do not have any interest in him, after John the Baptist disappears on the stage, he drives us to Galilee, where Jesus begins his ministry, saying, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news.” After that, Mark drives us to the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus calls his disciples. “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And we see, they immediately followe him. Then, Jesus and his disciples go to Capernaum. On the sabbath in the synagogue, Jesus preaches and casts out the unclean spirits, and according to Mark, his fame immediately begins to spread through the surrounding region of Galilee. After his first exorcism, he immediately enters the house of Simon and does his healing miracle there. And Mark says, immediately the whole city lines up at the door.
It seems that Jesus spent such a busy day. After he finishes one episode, and with episode following episode, he immediately leads us to the next. Mark tells us a series of episodes as if they all are happening in a day. However, we are not sure that the whole events took place in a day.
My mother is now seventy-six. When I was a middle or high school student, my mom used to tell me how busy her life was. She said, one day in hot summer, when I am hang out the wash on the line to dry, you are playing with the sand in a front-yard and bringing it into your mouth, and I immediately come to you to stop, and your little brother is crying for hunger on my back, and your dad is calling me to help his work in the field, I immediately feed your brother, running to your dad. After that, your grandma in the kitchen is calling me to get lunch ready, and I immediately come to her. And I am in the kitchen, a mailman is knocking at the door to pick up mails, and at the same time, my neighbor comes to ask for dishes, but immediately I pick up the mails and give her the dishes. And it is about to rain, but I immediately gather up the laundry before raining. In such a chaos, but, I immediately did everything. I did not miss anything, because all were urgent, and all really needed me, my help. And my mom said, it was such a busy day. She told as if all happened just in a day. She said she did these on the same day. But, I know that she did not do these whole things on the same day. But for her, the time is always now, and the things are always urgent. My mom described as if these whole things, these whole episodes, are happening right now, right here, urgently, before my eyes.
It is the way of telling her story, and in the same way, Mark is telling us Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. As if all happened in a day and Jesus did all on the same day. But, it does not mean that Jesus did these all on the same day. Instead, it means his kingdom ministry and his message of God’s kingdom, proclaimed through his word and through his miracles, are so urgent. “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.” The time in Jesus’s ministry is always now, and the things in his ministry are always urgent. Because God’s kingdom is here. Mark tries to tell it is so urgent.
In the morning, it was still very dark, Jesus goes out to a deserted and solitary place to pray to God, having intimate communion with the Father. The whole city is looking for Jesus. They need him. They want more. More miracles, more teaching, more preaching, from him. “Why are you here? What are you doing here? Everyone is looking for you. Let’s go back to them.” Peter and those with him and the people want Jesus to be with them here, and share and enjoy the success and the achievements that Jesus did yesterday. “Please stay with us, become our king here, and let us set up your house, your temple, here, among us. Please let us build up our kingdom here.”
But he refuses to return. Then, he says to them, “Let us go forward and outward, elsewhere.” His miracles, casting out demons and healing the sick, are not pointing to himself, but to God, and God’s kingdom. He is not just a miracle-worker. His kingdom ministry cannot be kept in Capernaum, in a synagogue, in a house, in a crowd of people around the door. God’s kingdom that Jesus proclaims in word and deed is not a local kingdom, but a universal kingdom. God’s reign is not in a specific area, but on earth as in heaven. Beyond Capernaum, beyond Galilee, beyond Judea, beyond Israel. Jesus’ miracles and preaching point beyond to the universal reign and kingship of God on earth as in heaven. As the representative of God’s kingdom, he does God’s kingdom work, casting out demons, healing the sick, recruiting and teaching his disciples, and preaching.
“Let us go forward and outward, elsewhere.” “Let us go. It is urgent.” “Let us go now somewhere else to the nearby villages, so that I may preach there also. That is why I have come. Let us go everywhere, to all nations, so that the message of God’s kingdom may be proclaimed and heard on earth as in heaven.”
We remember, before his death, at the table, Jesus says to his disciples, “after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee” (14:28). And after resurrection, Jesus also says through his messenger, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him” (16:7). Jesus wants his disciples to remember his saying, “let us go somewhere else, let us go and be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). That is why he has come. And this is why Jesus calls us, and this is what we are called to do. As Jesus was sent to the world by his Father, we are sent to the world, to all nations by Jesus, so that we may heal one another, so that we may cast out the unhealth, unclean, unjust spirits, thinking, behaviors, and life-style in us, around us, in our society, in our world, and so that we may proclaim his message of God’s kingdom not just in our church, our home, but also in our neighbor and in our society.
Into the world of chaos, among the people living in chaos, Jesus came in flesh to heal their wounds, to deliver them from the kingdom of darkness. He has come for all nations, and for all people, for all ages. God’s kingdom, and the gospel never be set in a synagogue, in a church, in a town, in a specific community, in a specific culture, in a specific group or in a specific nation. “Let us go somewhere else, so that I may preach there also. This is why I have come.” Jesus says to his disciples, “You are not audience anymore. So, let us go somewhere to preach the gospel.”
At the end of her story, my mom added few words, “Now, my son. You are not a child anymore. So, help me, join me, these works, cleaning your room, washing your shoes, taking care of your brother, helping your dad. O.K?” “Yes, Mom”
In the Second reading of today, his first letter to the Corinthians (9:19-23), Paul says, for him, to proclaim the Message of God’s Kingdom is not something to do voluntarily, but it is his obligation. He is entrusted with a commission by the Lord. Paul calls himself a slave who is entrusted to proclaim the Message of God’s Kingdom, and a servant who stands under the authority of Jesus Christ.
Paul says that he has made himself voluntarily a slave, a servant, to all, for the sake of the gospel, so that he may win more of them and share in the blessings of the gospel. “I am a free man, nobody’s slave; but I make myself everybody’s slave in order to win as many people as possible. So, I become all things to all people, that I may save some of them by whatever means are possible. All this I do for the gospel’s sake, in order to share in its blessings.” (1 Cor. 9:19-23).
We pray with the Lord’ prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.” It is not just a prayer that our Saviour taught us to pray with. It also has to become our faithful response to his invitation, his calling, his commission for us as God’s servant to take part in God’s kingdom and his kingdom work. Let us go somewhere else, to proclaim the good news of God, and to serve the Lord and our neighbor.