The Kingdom of God: Reflections from the Gospel of Mark
Hey! So it's been a while since my last post, but I'm back to share more about the Kingdom of God. As mentioned before, I will never be able to exhaust this topic, and I anticipated writing a long series about it. But something really wonderful ended up happening. I took some time to reread the gospel of Mark and I saw some helpful and encouraging insights about the Kingdom, with the help of the Holy Spirit. As a person who has read the bible for the majority of her life, I find it super important to ask the Holy Spirit to lead me in my reading, and to open my eyes to let me see things I could not see before. I don't ever want to be presumptuous, thinking I understand something from the scripture just because I read it once (or several times) before. So I want to share my observations from the book of Mark, and if the Lord will have me share more on this topic, I will do so with His help.
This is basically a brief and abbreviated commentary on my reading of the entire book of Mark, but I suggest you have the bible near while you read this, so that you can check out the passages I am referring to. Hopefully this will inspire us all to read our bibles with an open heart, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus and His Kingdom to us as we read....
The Kingdom of God: Reflections from the Gospel of Mark
How did the King demonstrate His Kingdom, and how can we pursue, practice and participate in the Kingdom with Him?
He preached the message. “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
He cast out demons. The demonic spirits recognized His authority, and the people were amazed that He had this authority. (Mark 1:21-28)
He healed the sick and He forgave sins. Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2: 9-12
He called people to follow him. “As he walked along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me’, Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.” Mark 2:14
He proclaimed Himself the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28)
He taught in parables to the masses, but He revealed the mysteries of the Kingdom to His disciples. (Mark 4:10-11)
*In the Mark 4 parables, Jesus teaches His disciples that the Kingdom takes root in small ways, but it expands, grows, and bears much fruit. *
He exercised His authority over the natural elements (Mark 4: 37-41)
His liberating power disrupted communities (Mark 5: 2-17)
He gave authority to His disciples and sent them out to spread and practice the Kingdom (Mark 6: 7-13)
He broke the traditions of men to fulfill the true desires and will of God, and..
He reoriented purification as something that comes from the inside of a person, instead of outside. (Mark 7)
He offered His Kingdom to the gentiles “Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.[g] He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon, gone. (Mark 7:24-30)
He persisted in patience for His disciples, who continued to struggle to see Him clearly. Even with Peter’s declaratory revelation “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”; and even with His Transfiguration right before the eyes of Peter, James, and John, they struggled to understand the moment and see who He was. He continued to patiently explain to them the Kingdom, and God’s plan for the Messiah. (Mark 8/9)
*It does not seem that Jesus specifically went about seeking to perform miracles. In fact, He was rather annoyed by people who continually asked Him for signs (Mark 8:12). Jesus went to preach the Kingdom. Miracles happened because the Kingdom of darkness came under direct confrontation with Jesus as he was going about doing His Father’s will. When demonic possession, sickness, death, or human brokenness of any kind came face to face with Jesus, and the faith of the person who was seeking the Kingdom, they had to bow down to His authority.
The only thing that hindered the spread of the Kingdom in the book of Mark was too much unbelief. (Mark 6: 5-6). Jesus marveled at the unbelief of his fellow villagers and relatives, but again He was also amazed that His own disciples had a hard time grasping who He really was, even though they saw Him do miracle after miracle (including the feeding of the 5000 and the 4000). Although the Kingdom was in their midst (Jesus Himself is the Kingdom), their hearts were still hardened, and they had not yet gained insight into His true identity. (Mark 6) But again, we see the persistent patience of the Lord in chapter 9, when the man with the demon possessed son said, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” And Jesus delivered his son.*
He reordered the definition of greatness. (Mark 9:35)
Jesus reordered marriage standards and revealed God’s will for human sexuality (Mark 10)
He redeemed the dignity of children, and proclaimed that the Kingdom is a place where those who enter have the same disposition as children (Mark 10)
He revealed God’s will for interpersonal relationships…that anyone who comes into the Kingdom will always have an abundance of family, home, and community, and that community will not be based on personal power and preeminence, but on love. (Mark 10). He also saide, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35)
He fulfilled His role as God’s chosen Messiah- He entered Jerusalem, He cleansed the temple, Religious and Political powers examined Him and questioned his authority, He openly explained to His disciples and to all who would listen that the Messiah would have to be crucified in order to bring the Kingdom to full fruition
He made a clear distinction between the kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of God (Mark 12)
He predicted the destruction of Jerusalem, and His ultimate return. He warned of false christs and false prophets, of wars and betrayals, of His people being hated because of His Name. And He warned His disciples to stay alert in awaiting His return. (Mark 13)
In the same manner, and in accordance with the perfect timing of the passover, Jesus began His entry into His suffering. He was anointed by Mary. He ate passover with His disciples, in remembrance of how God delivered Israel from the hands of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. He explained the meaning of the Passover meal to His disciples. He was betrayed by Judas. He worshiped and sang with His disciples. He entered the garden of Gethsemane and grieved His coming death, asking His Father to deliver Him if there were any other way to accomplish His will. Ultimately, He accepted His Father’s will, He trusted His Father. He knew that His Father would never leave Him nor forsake Him. And even though very shortly it would feel like His Father forsook Him…His Father never forsook Him.
He was arrested and tried.
He was humiliated, abused, beaten, and traumatized.
He never denied His Father and He completely embraced His identity, even in the face of death.
He was abandoned by his friends. He was rejected by His people. He was handed over to the powers of darkness to be crucified on our behalf.
And having been executed on the cross of the Romans, as the King of the Jews,
The King was buried, and his disciples fled to hide in despair and fear.
Three days later, the women came to anoint His body.
When they approached the tomb, they saw the stone was rolled away, but they didn’t know why.
As they entered the tomb, an angel was sitting where Jesus' dead body once laid. He told them that the King had risen!
The word spread. Still, some disciples struggled with unbelief.
But then, He appeared in His glorified Body.
His work was finished, but guess what?
His Kingdom was just getting started.
He sent his apostles to preach the gospel everywhere (after once again rebuking them for their unbelief), and they did what He said.
He ascended into heaven to sit down in power and glory at His Father’s right hand.
All authority and power in heaven and earth was given to Him.
He is the King. He is building His Ekklesia, and the gates of hell will not prevail against her.
His Kingdom and governing authority continues to take root and expand to this day.
We are His Kingdom people. His joint heirs. He is the Head, and we are His body.
The same authority that His Father gave to Him, He gives to us-power to cast out demons, speak with other tongues, tread upon serpents, to be unharmed by poison; and to lay hands on the sick that they may recover. Remember that “As He is, so are we in this world.” (I John 4:17)
He is alive in heaven and He is alive in His Church on earth!
And even though, just like the disciples, we can all struggle with being able to see Him for who He is, sometimes hardness of heart can keep us from living out the Kingdom that He died for; His mercy, patience, power and love will continue to call us all into the fullness of the Kingdom until He returns.
Bride- let’s prepare ourselves for the Bridegroom. Let’s take hold of the Kingdom. Let us enter with Faith as little children. Let us allow God to be great among us, and for our Lord to have the full reward of HIs suffering.
He purchased us with a price. We are His People
Our King is alive and is reigning among us now.
May His name be praised forevermore!!!