Adversity and Fulfillment

Jesus began to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God in Galilee following the arrest of John the Baptist, an incident that foreshadowed the opposition he would face throughout his mission. In the end, resistance to his efforts culminated in his own arrest, trial, and execution in Jerusalem. His message brought fulfillment but also adversity. Unlike the prophets of old, his work did NOT begin or center in Jerusalem, though it certainly ended there - (Matthew 4:13).

Though unsure of who he was, many men responded to him enthusiastically and flocked to hear the Nazarene. In contrast, the religious leaders associated with the Temple were offended by his teachings, methods, and deeds from the very beginning.

Lighthouse in storm - Photo by Marcus Woodbridge on Unsplash
[Photo by Marcus Woodbridge on Unsplash]

Jesus was neither a Pharisee nor a scribe, and he was not a member of the priestly class. He had no direct connection to the Temple. Instead, he visited the synagogues of Galilee and proclaimed the imminence of the Kingdom of God, where he astounded all who heard him, “
for he taught them as one with authority, and not as the scribes did.

  • (Mark 1:14-15) - "After John was delivered up, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God and saying: The SEASON IS FULFILLED, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel.”

On his own initiative, he summoned disciples to leave their homes and livelihoods and follow him. Jesus had authority over demons and diseases, and he even healed lepers by touching them while remaining free of the ritual impurities associated with leprosy - (Mark 1:16-45).

The time to repent and believe the Gospel had arrived. His mission began after the arrest of John by Herod Antipas - (Luke 3:19-20, Matthew 4:12-17).

The Gospel of Matthew points to his arrival in Galilee as the fulfillment of the Messianic passage in the Book of Isaiah, and so, the ministry of Jesus began on a strong note of fulfillment:

  • The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, near the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Nations. The people that sat in darkness saw a great light, and to them that sat in the region and shadow of death did light spring up – (Matthew 4:15, Isaiah 9:1-2).

In the passage from Mark, the Greek verb rendered “delivered up” is theologically significant (paradidōmi – Strong’s #G3860). It is applied repeatedly to the “handing over” of the faithful for abuse by religious and governmental authorities, and especially to the betrayal of Jesus into the hands of those who put him to death.

The Baptist also was “handed over” for arrest though this was per the plan of God. The descriptions by Jesus of his being “handed over” allude to the horrific fate of Isaiah’s ‘Servant of Yahweh’ and his suffering on behalf of the sins of others:

  • Because his soul was HANDED OVER TO DEATH, and he was numbered among the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many and WAS HANDED OVER because of their iniquities - (Mark 9:31, 10:33, Isaiah 53:12).

The Gospel of Mark coordinates the start of Christ’s mission with John’s arrest so we understand that his ministry of proclamation did not begin until the completion of the preparatory work of the Baptist.

John’s arrest meant that the proclamation of the Gospel BEGAN IN ADVERSITY. The Baptist withdrew to the wilderness to administer a baptism of repentance. In contrast, Jesus traveled to the populous regions of Galilee and Judea to announce the “Good News” to everyone who would hear and receive it.

TIME OF FULFILLMENT


Jesus declared that the “appointed time is fulfilled.” The first English term translates the Greek noun Kairos, meaning, “season, time, the opportune time” (Strong’s - #G2540). The Greek verb represented by “fulfilled” is in a perfect tense, signifying a completed action. His announcement echoed a key passage in the Book of Daniel:

  • (Daniel 12:4-9) – “Close up the words and seal the book UNTIL THE TIME OF THE END… And I heard but could not understand, so I said, O my lord, what shall be the issue of these things? Then said he: Go your way, Daniel; for closed up and sealed are the words UNTIL THE TIME OF THE END.

Prominent in Daniel is the promise of the coming vindication of the saints. When Jesus appeared in Galilee, the “time of the end” had arrived, the “last days” and the time of fulfillment began in earnest. His preaching always had an eschatological orientation. The promised Kingdom arrived in his person and ministry, and this is why his message was and remains “Good News” – (Daniel 2:44-45, Daniel 7:13-14, 7:27).

The term “Kingdom of God” refers to the rule and sovereignty of God. The Greek word translated as “Kingdom” means a “dominion,” “realm,” and “reign.” As used by Jesus, the “Kingdom of God” is the reign of God over all things administered through His Son. The idea is derived from the Book of Daniel – (“The Son of Man was given dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.” Daniel 7:14).

[Pending storm, Photo by Justin Leniger on Unsplash]
[Pending storm, Photo by Justin Leniger on Unsplash]

How did individuals respond to his message and invitation? First, Jesus called men and women to “
repent.” Second, he summoned them to “believe” the Good News. Like the Baptist, he proclaimed the imminence of the “Kingdom,” and its approach necessitated repentance and faith.

Although the arrival of the Kingdom was “Good News” for many, it also signaled impending judgment for others. Thus, Jesus would baptize men “in spirit and fire”; the “spirit” of life for some, but the “fire” of judgment for others. Anyone’s fate depended on how he or she responded to him and his message. To enter the Kingdom required faith and repentance.

Repentance” is a turning away from something, while “belief” is turning toward something else, namely, faith in the Gospel and the one who inaugurated the Kingdom and pronounced the Good News.

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