The Messiah Begins His Ministry

Jesus went into the water to be baptized, then he was thrown into the wilderness, and finally he went into Galilee.

In each movement, Jesus relived the story of Israel. Jesus went through the water just as Israel did in their exodus from Egypt. Jesus went into the wilderness as Israel did for 40 years, and Jesus entered Galilee with hope and promise just as Israel entered the promised land in the time of Joshua.

The ministry of Jesus continues the ministry of Israel. Just as Israel was a witness to the presence of God in the world as a light to the nations, so Jesus renews that mission by serving Israel and ultimately sending his church to the nations. Israel came out of the wilderness to minister among the nations, and Jesus comes out of the wilderness to minister in Israel as he prepares a people to serve the nations.

Indeed, the church follows Jesus into the water, follows Jesus into the wilderness, and embraces the mission of Jesus as its own.

Coming out of the wilderness, Jesus heralds or announces the good news of God, the gospel of God.  But what is this good news?

The Gospel of Mark begins with this line: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Mark’s Gospel narrates and tells the story of the gospel, the good news. It is about Jesus.

Mark 1:15 specifies the good news. When Jesus heralds the good news of God, he preaches this simple message: “The kingdom of God has drawn near.” This is the time of God’s visitation; the time of God’s in-breaking. The reign of God is coming. “The time is fulfilled.” It is now.

As we walk through the ministry of Jesus, we will see more clearly what the “kingdom of God” is and how its appearance is good news. Simply put, the reign of God arrives in the ministry of Jesus in the midst of a violent and evil age. God’s justice will set things right, God’s mercy will heal the wounded, and God’s peace will reign in the world. This comes in the person of Jesus who himself embodies the reign of God.

This good news invites a response:  repent and believe, Jesus says, or reform and trust. Like John the Baptizer, Jesus calls Israel to repent. The people must align themselves with the purposes of the gospel, the reign of God, through repentance and reformation of life. Penitent, they trust the good news; they trust that the reign of God is coming.

This is a call for the church as well. Just as we followed Jesus into the water and followed him into the wilderness, so we follow him into his ministry. We, too, herald the coming of the kingdom of God.  We follow Jesus by heralding the good news and practicing the good news in our lives.

Coming from the water and out of the wilderness, Jesus heralds his central message: “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” This is the heartbeat of the theodrama.

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