Yesterday we read about Jesus casting out an evil spirit in a man while in the midst of teaching in the synagogue. The story ends with his fame beginning to “spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee”. So Jesus’ ministry has just begun, and it is exploding. He is the talk of the town. This ministry begins immediately following Jesus’ temptation in the desert (1:12-13) where he heads to Galilee to proclaim the “good news” (or Gospel- the word “gospel” literally means in “good news” in Greek) and saying, “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near…” (1:14-15). The question is what is the Kingdom of God? What does it mean that the “kingdom of God has come near”? Remember that when Jesus was baptized the heavens tore open and the spirit of God came upon him. The kingdom of God is wherever the effective will of God takes place, and Jesus is the bringer of God’s effective will. He is the very image and expression of who God is (Colossians 1:15), so therefore his work is what the Kingdom of God is, and furthermore wherever he goes so goes with him the Kingdom of God. And what that looks like is being answered in today’s story.
The kingdom of God looks like healing, wholeness, and the silencing and disempowering of evil. The Kingdom of God looks like people advocating for those are sick and consumed by evil by bringing them to Jesus in the hopes of wholeness and healing. The Kingdom of God looks like crowds surrounding the home where Jesus’ work is active and effective and is backing up the promise of good news. The Kingdom of God looks like crowds of people swept up in the work of God around them. The Kingdom of God looks like good news in action. It looks like awe, wonder, and amazement at something bigger than ourselves fulfilling good news in our midst.
All too often the Kingdom of God is painted with clouds, or airy rays of sunshine, or a distant spinning galaxy, or (worse yet) a massive set of pearly gates in the sky. I see nothing in the Gospels that says that this is what the Kingdom of God looks like. The Kingdom of God is near, it is tangible, and it looks like broken lives becoming whole, like dead and dying things coming to life. It looks like reconciled relationships, freedom from addiction, the weak becoming strong, and downtrodden rising to joy. What is this “Kingdom of God” that Jesus says is near in Mark 1:15? It looks like Mark 1:29-24. May we all recapture a spirit of amazement at the healing, restoring and reconciling power of God in our midst here and now.