If you were asked to state Jesus’ central message, what would you say? Start going to church? Stop cussing and drinking? Don't go to R-rated movies? Vote for this party’s candidate or that party’s candidate? Be nicer to people? Sometimes these are the messages people receive from us...but they are not the message of Jesus. What is the message then? At the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministry, He announced His message. so let's listen to what He said in Mark's gospel:
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:14-15)
This event takes place following Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist and after His forty day wilderness experience. The passage we just heard was Jesus' first proclamation of His message of the Kingdom of God. Let's listen to it again: "The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!" What did Jesus mean by saying that the time had come? He was announcing the beginning of His earthly ministry, but He was also announcing the arrival of a new era: the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom had arrived but it had arrived in an unexpected way. The Roman Empire and would still rule for another four hundred years. Those listening that day would die—as would their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren for many generations to come—all under the boot and sword of Rome. But as Jesus uttered those words, a new Kingdom had indeed come into the lives of the small crowd gathered that day, and two millennia later, millions and billions of lives would come under the government of King Jesus. The Kingdom of God has come and it's still coming with Jesus’s message to "repent and believe."
As you and I bow our knees to Jesus in repentance and faith, we discover the Kingdom coming more powerfully into our own lives day by day. The message of Jesus in Mark’s gospel is the message of Jesus today. The time has come! The Kingdom of God has come near! Repent and believe the Good News!"