Although only 14 verses into the gospel narrative, Mark has already introduced us to John the Baptist, Jesus has been baptized and tempted in the desert. Then, in a typically abbreviated style, Mark merely refers in passing to the whole story of John’s denunciation of Herod for immorality, and John’s consequent imprisonment and death.
But now, from this moment begins the preaching of the good news by Jesus. Mark’s “gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” began at v.1; now the “good news of God” begins, as Jesus’ first words are heard: “This is the time of fulfillment” (v. 15).
This phrase is only in Mark. The word for time is kairos; it is used in 11:13 and 12:2 to refer to the “time of harvest” – an image that usually refers to the time of judgment. It is also used in Mark 13: “The Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”
Yet this is something liminal about the moment. There is a part of us that wants an “epiphany” with the kingdom clearly present; there is a part of us that wants the kingdom to conquer all – here and now.
Yet the world still seems very much intact. Instead of a kingdom epiphany, the second act opens with Jesus wandering by the sea, bidding some common laborers to accompany him on a mission.
Seen or unseen, the Gospel tells us that the time is now – and yet we pray “Your kingdom come….”
I appreciate Martin Luther’s explanation of the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer. “God’s kingdom comes on its own without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come to us.”
And what will you do today so that the kingdom comes to you?