Roger's Postings

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mark 1:9-15                The time has come!!!!                                     26/2/12

 (9)  At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. {10} As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. {11} And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." {12} At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, {13} and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. {14} After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. {15} "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

 Jesus says here, "The time has come."  A critical point in history is at hand. So here we have Jesus talking about a key point in life. So if that is the case we need to listen carefully to hear what he has to say. Now of course that has primarily to do with Jesus and his ministry; but we will come back to that in a minute. However we are reminded by Jesus’ very next words that this is also a critical time for us as well. No matter what point in history we look, we are always now at that point where "The time has come."  Our ‘time’ and Jesus “time” must always come together if we are to have that which we truly need in life.

 Yes, our critical time has come. We today, again, are a people who are in deep trouble. We all are caught up in a life that is far from what it should be and was intended to be. There are many hurting and being hurt people: Justice is often not there any more; particularly for the little people: Corruption and hypocrisy abounds: all of us are caught in a life of sin in one way or another: the forces of evil are all about and even within. To add even further to this; or should I say, to get right to the heart of the matter, we as a people and as a nation have turned our backs on God and left him very much in the background of our lives. As a result Jesus is saying again, "The time has come."  The time has come to deal with this evil, selfishness and all the rest that is there in our lives. If there is to be any chance of an improvement, then God’s Kingdom; his rule needs to break into our lives. We again need to hear and believe this good news that is a part of Jesus Christ and his coming into our world.

 So we go back to when Jesus time has come. Because he faced his critical time, there is now Good News for you and me today. As he begins his ministry, Jesus is well aware of the forces of evil and the destruction that is all about. That is why he came into our world; to do something about it. But after his baptism he was sent out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. Shortly after that time John the Baptist, the great Prophet of God, was put in prison. He also comes across many people who are sick, under the power of demons, and hurting in all kinds of ways. So at his baptism his course was set; his time had come. Here we now have the focal point of all of history.

 From that point on, everything headed to Jerusalem and the cross. His time to deal with sin and evil, once and for all, had come. So he proclaims that God’s kingdom was now breaking into our world. God has now come to do what needed to be done. We can see it very clearly from this point on; he confronts and deals with, as only God can, with sickness demon possession, blindness and even death. He gets stuck into false religion and hypocrisy. He preaches love instead of selfishness. He clearly teaches the truth of the Scriptures. All as pointers to the fact that here in himself, was Almighty God come into our world to do what had to be done.

 Then he goes and does that which is absolutely critical. He goes to the cross. He goes to the cross and takes God’s punishment for all evil on himself. He takes the full force of God’s justice on himself. He suffers death that we might have life. He is forsaken by his Father so that we might be forgiven and freed from the power of evil to condemn us. Sin, death and the devil have been overcome. God holiness and justice have been satisfied, and his love now extended to each and every one of us. We are assured now of salvation and eternal life. Life is no longer the same.

 This central and critical point in history is linked in to our other two readings, and to other key points and factors in history. In the Old Testament reading it is linked to God’s promise through the rainbow that he would never again destroy the world by means of a flood. Through water humanity died, but those believing in God; Noah and his family were saved. From there he gave them the assurance that they only need to look up to the rainbow and trust in God and they would have the assurance that they would not be destroyed through a world-wide flood.

 Then in our second reading from Peter’s first letter we have God’s promise and assurance of that fact that we are saved and have eternal life through baptism, which connects us to Jesus’ death on the cross and all that he did for us through it. Let me quote: For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. ........and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our baptism thereby assures us that God has saved us: we have been washed clean and thereby given the assurance that we have been given a good conscience when we stand before God on the Last Day. All who believe in him will rise up on the last day and go to be with him in all eternity.

 So, "The kingdom of God is near. It has entered into our world today and into our very hearts and lives. God’s presence, assurances and promises are at work today in our lives and our world as much today as they were when Christ walked this earth. As his Word is proclaimed, heard and read; as his Sacraments are administered: as his people love, care and support one another: as his world continues to feed, support and preserve us; his rule continues to be near to each and every one of us.

 He is present and active right into the very sad and tragic situations that we are facing and will face, no matter how bad they may be. He is there in your suffering, using it for good. It right there as your selfishness brings you unstuck, seeking to draw you back to the cross and to him. He is there in your joys and your sorrows, wanting you to know that he is your God. He is there for you in the bread and the wine of Holy Communion, reminding you assuring you of his forgiveness, life and salvation that he has won for you. In so many ways he is continuing to remind you that he is with you and that he wants you to know, that nothing in all creation can separate you from his love in Christ Jesus.

 Yes God’s good and gracious kingdom is near. It is at hand, right here and right now. But the question is do we want it? Do we want to be a part of this good and gracious kingdom? Do we want to heed Jesus’ call for us to Repent and believe this good news? Do we want to turn away from the evil that is a part of our lives: the selfishness, hypocrisy, godlessness and all the rest? Do we want to continue to feel sorry for ourselves and wallow in our self-pity? Do want to turn away from our focus on all of these things and place it back on our Lord Jesus Christ and all that he is and has done for us? Do we really want to live under his rule, allowing him to lead us and guide us in all that we say and do? The kingdom of God is near, wanting all of this and much more for you. Repent!

 More than repent; Repent and believe the good news. Trust that Jesus at the right time died and rose again for you. Trust that he is true to his word when he says, he who believes and is baptized will be saved. Believe him when he says your sins are forgiven you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Believe him when he says, take and eat this is my body which is given for you. Take and drink this is my blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for the forgiveness of your sins. Trust him when he promises, Lo I am with you always to the ends of time. Trust that what he has to say to you in his Word the Bible is the Truth and all that we really need for this life and the next. Believe all this Good News that he has for you.

Yes all of this does take courage. It does go against the rest of society; and it goes against our human nature. It does mean following Jesus and not the way of the world. It does mean that our thinking and our feelings are not the last word. It will mean making sacrifices; and it will mean that we will want others to know of Jesus and what he has done for us also. But remember he died and rose again so that you can be sure. He has given us baptism so that each of us can be sure it is so for each of us individually. Remember the Fathers words to Jesus at his baptism, "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

 Yes, "The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"  AMEN.
 
Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

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