Jesus and the Kingdom of God. The Gospel of Mark. Introduction: This shortest of NT gospels is likely the first to be written, yet it often tells the events of Jesus’ ministry in more detail than the other gospels. It recounts what Jesus did in a vivid style, where one incident follows directly upon another. In this almost breathless narrative, Mark stresses Jesus’ message about the kingdom of God now breaking into human life as Good News and Jesus himself as the Gospel of God. The key verses summarize what Jesus proclaims as gospel: fulfillment, the nearness of the kingdom, and therefore the need for repentance and faith. Parables about the kingdom of heaven is Jesus’ main subject of teaching and preaching. Mark begins his Gospel thus: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ (the Son of God). As it is written in Isaiah the prophet ‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way’.” Like the gospels of Matthew and John, Mark begins with an echo of the book of Genesis. ‘The beginning’ recalls the first line of the creation narrative in Genesis 1:1, and suggests that the good news that Mark is about to tell is a new beginning, a new work of God as original and stupendous as the creation of the universe (Commentary by Mary Healy in “Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture). The word “gospel” means good news or glad tidings. For Mark the good news is that, in Jesus, the promise is being fulfilled. Mark gives Jesus two titles, Christ and the Son of God. Christ is Greek for anointed and only gradually will the disciples realize that Jesus is Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. I feel the the incident when Peter declares Jesus to be the Messiah is a kind of climax to the drama of the disciples. John the Baptist preaches that he only baptizes with water, but the One to come will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Many people were baptized with Holy Spirit during the charismatic renewal which spread through both Catholic and Protestant communities. We were in the midst of the kingdom of heaven, and it was wonderful. Healy reminded me of it. Then, when John was baptizing in the Jordan, Jesus came and was baptized. Then he “saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.'” (1:10-11). Why does Jesus submit to baptism? In one gospel he does it for the sake of appearances because his brothers are with him. Healy says he does because of his total solidarity with sinful humanity. In fact its a foreshadowing of his death. Immersion in water is a symbol of death……………………….. . Jesus started preaching after John was arrested, and he walked around telling people to “Repent and believe in the gospel. The kingdom of heaven is at hand. This is the time of fulfillment” (1:15). This all agrees with Matthew. Jesus decided to wait until John was no longer preaching to start his own career. In fact, it was God’s plan (CSB). Mark keeps Jesus in an endless walk around Galilee for three years. The “Gospel of God means not only the good news from God but about God at work in Jesus Christ.” This is the time of fulfillment of God’s promises……… In 4:3-20 Jesus tells a parable about a farmer who sowed seeds. Some seeds fell on the road and were picked up by birds; some seeds fell on rocky ground, but they dried and died in the sun; some seeds fell among thorns and were choked; but some seeds fell on good fertile ground and yielded 100 fold and more. The seeds are the word, the sowers are the disciples and the ground is the various reactions to the gospel. Jesus said to the Twelve: “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. The sower sows the word. The key feature of the parable at hand is the sowing of the seed representing the breakthrough of the kingdom of God into the world. The climax of the parable is the harvest of thirty, sixty and a hundred-fold, indicating the consummation of the kingdom. Thus both the present and the future action of God from the initiation to the fulfillment of the kingdom is presented through this and other parables (CSB).