Mark’s Good News of the Kingdom of God -- By: Brian J. Vickers
SBJT 8:3 (Fall 2004) p. 12
Mark’s Good News of the Kingdom of God
Brian J. Vickers is Assistant Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to his dissertation, The Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness: A Study of Key Pauline Texts, Dr. Vickers has written a number of scholarly articles. He has also served on the editorial staff of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology for six years.
“Behold the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has drawn near, repent and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). With this announcement, Jesus begins his ministry. He sets his agenda. He proclaims the arrival of a long-awaited event: the visitation of God to his people. Whatever Jesus’ original audience may have thought about this proclamation or, for that matter, about the one making the proclamation, they could at least understand the meaning of his words. Apparently, the same was true for Mark’s readers. At no time in his Gospel does Mark, or the other Gospel writers, explain to his readers what “the Kingdom of God” means. Both Jesus and Mark take for granted that their respective audiences will understand the meaning and significance of the phrase.1 When Jesus made the announcement recorded in Mark 1:15, his hearers evidently had no need for an explanation—not yet, at least. For Jews living in first century Israel, with hippodromes and arenas scattered throughout the land and in Jerusalem, Roman standards flying in prominent places, Roman crosses at times lining the roads, Roman soldiers in barracks in the Temple precinct, and with a Roman governor living secure in his palace in Jerusalem, the coming of the “Kingdom” meant deliverance. God would deliver his people, as he promised. Their enemies will be destroyed, God will visit his people in a decisive way and Israel will be restored and exalted with God as her King. The “Kingdom of God” may have meant more than that, but it certainly did not mean less.
The Kingdom of God was arriving, and Jesus proclaimed the good news that God was acting on behalf of his people to deliver them from bondage and oppression, forgive their sins, heal their diseases, crush their enemies, and subdue the fallen creation. God was, in other words, manifesting his sovereign rule and reign over the whole world. And Jesus invited all who heard him to take part, to join in; he even told them precisely how to become members and citizens of the Kingdom of God. Yet as the ministry of Jesus unfolds in Mark’s Gospel, it becomes abundantly clear that Jesus’ Kingdom agenda is not living up to the ideas and hopes of his con...
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