The Kingdom God is At Hand

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.
(Mark 1:14-20)

Scripture Study

1:15 time In this context, the Greek word used here, kairos, indicates a period of time predetermined by God. kingdom The Greek word used here, basileia, can denote a geographical territory or the reign of a particular monarch. The kingdom of God refers to God’s reign over all of creation and humanity. Jesus’ teaching in Mark reveals that members of the kingdom of God are marked by childlike humility (Mark 9:33–37; 10:13–16), concern for the poor (10:21–31), sacrificial service (10:42–45), and love for God and neighbor (12:28–34). The language Mark uses to describe God’s rule demonstrates its dynamic character: The kingdom comes (vv. 15; 9:1; compare 15:43), it grows like a seed (4:26, 30), and people can enter it, but only by responding to God’s will (9:47; 10:15, 23–25; 12:34). Is at hand There are obvious examples in history before this time of Yahweh reigning on earth, such as when Israel was established in the promised land or when Yahweh’s temple was built in Jerusalem. However, God’s full reign—as seen in the garden of Eden shortly after creation—had not existed since sin entered the world (Gen 2:4–9, 3; compare Rev 22:1–5). Jesus’ proclamation suggests that the time of God’s full reign on earth is near. believe in the gospel Since Jesus announces the advent of a new kingdom, belief in the gospel entails allegiance to the new king, Jesus.

1:16 Sea of Galilee A lake fed by the Jordan River; it forms the eastern boundary of the region of Galilee. Much of Jesus’ ministry takes place along its western shores. Jesus will cross it in order to expand His ministry into the regions east and north of it (Mark 4:35; 5:1; 6:45). Simon Jesus will rename him Peter (3:16). In addition to being Jesus’ first disciple named in Mark, Simon will be the first person in Mark’s Gospel to recognize Jesus as the Messiah (8:29). Andrew Jews at this time often had Greek rather than Hebrew or Aramaic names.

1:17 Come after me Jesus as rabbi calls His first disciples using a phrase that evokes OT images of prophetic succession (1 Kgs 19:20; compare Mark 9:5; 11:21). Jesus’ call also is a reminder that He is on a journey that has been prepared for Him (vv. 2–3).

1:18 Then they abandoned their nets and followed him The immediacy of their response conveys the urgency of Jesus’ message about the kingdom of God and the level of commitment that it requires (compare 10:28).

1:19 James, the son of Zebedee One of the first disciples and a member of Jesus’ inner group of disciples; not to be confused with James the brother of Jesus. John One of the first disciples and a member of Jesus’ inner circle.

1:20 hired men The Greek word misthōtos indicates a wage-laborer. These men, who have no commitment to Zebedee beyond the wages he pays them, remain in his employment; Zebedee’s own sons, whose natural loyalty is to their father, immediately drop that allegiance and transfer it to Jesus. This motif resurfaces in Mark 10:29–30.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel today is Jesus’ inaugural address, setting the tone for the whole of his preaching. Mark tells us that he was proclaiming the Good News of God, and that this was “the time of fulfillment.”

Something was being brought to completion. What was it? It was everything that the Old Testament had spoken of. Jesus gathered up in his person everything that Israel was about—and this is why his presence was so compelling and why following him was of paramount importance. This is why he says, “Repent and believe in the gospel.” The Good News is him. So now it’s time to make a decision.

Friends, this is the whole story. Everything else is commentary. We are meant to see ourselves in Simon and Andrew, in James and John. When Jesus passes by, we have to respond. The time is now. They got this, and that’s why they responded so promptly.

Now here’s the catch: to follow him means to do what he does, to call other people to the kingdom. “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” That line is addressed to all of us, to all the baptized, to all the disciples.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.