Reflections for the Week of Sunday January 21, 2018 Third after Epiphany

Gospel: Mark 1:14-20 tells of Jesus proclaiming the good news of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the good news.” Then the Scripture speaks of His calling disciples.

The good news (gospel) is not about what we should or must do. It is about what Christ has done for us. If it were merely good advice about what we are obliged to do, that is not good news at all. But if Jesus has done something for us, then we can rejoice and be glad. What He has accomplished for us can be summarized as follows: On the cross He became the king and ruler of the world, taking the satan’s place as ‘ruler of this world’ by defeating him. He has paid the debt we owe so that our sins are forgiven and paid in full. We have been set free from the bondage to the satan whose power has been destroyed. This represents the new Passover. Our spiritual death, estrangement and exile  from God have been ended–this is the new Exodus–and we have been brought into a new loving relationship with Him as adopted children and brothers and sisters of Christ. This is what justification means. It is not a matter of behavior; it is a new status, a new identity based on what Jesus has done. Jesus has launched a new creation of which we are a part. The Old Testament tells of the creation of the world, and the New Testament tells of the new creation brought about by Jesus where He is King. As He died on the cross, He said, “It is finished” meaning the new creation for which He was dying is complete!  His kingdom is inaugurated on earth, so that the satan is no longer in charge of this world, and that we have received the Holy Spirit to dwell within us so that we are in effect new temples of God. The kingdom of God and the Temple of God is wherever in the world the Spirit dwells in His people which covers the whole world, not just the Holy Land. Jesus’ death on the cross manifests His love for His people in an undeniable way. All these things have been accomplished for us and all we need to do is to believe the good news, in other words believe that Jesus the Christ is our Lord and Savior and is ruling over the newly instituted kingdom of God which He has inaugurated on earth as in heaven. Our ultimate destination is not to go to heaven to live forever as disembodied spirits. Rev 21, 22 promises us to dwell in the new heaven and new earth with resurrection bodies. These things comprise the good news and all we have to do is understand what He has done for us and recognize Him as our King to whom we owe our allegiance and trust. Just as Jesus’ announcement of the gospel was followed by His calling disciples, so He is calling us, HIs followers, to help Him bring in the kingdom. We do this by worshiping Jesus as Lord and reflecting the praises of creation back to Him and reflecting His image into the world–His image of love, forgiveness, and humble service to all who are in need. Epiphany refers to Christ manifesting Himself in the world and this is what His followers do in His name to extend His kingdom. The word ‘repent’ means to change direction–from the way of pleasing ourselves and manifesting our human nature to pleasing Him and manifesting His nature in us. But like faith repentance is not something we must do but is a gift of God that we receive with our rebirth in Him when we receive the Holy Spirit and come to believe and trust in Him and follow Him.

Memory Verse: The kingdom of heaven [God] is like treasure hidden in a field which a man found and hid; and for joy over it goes and sells all that he has and buys that field (Mt 13;44).

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