My son Andrew helped plant my neighbors garden. And this year he planted a row of popcorn, fully believing that there would be a harvest and many evenings spent enjoying the fruit of his labor…
I love the Gospel of Mark. It’s one of my favorites! Part of what I love about Mark’s account of the life of Jesus is how he just gets to it. It is shorter than the other accounts and most likely written first. And in the first chapter Jesus is already deep into his ministry – even though it has just begun.
I believe that Jesus’ love gets expressed in three deep beliefs in the middle of the first chapter – in the calling of the first disciples. And, I believe Jesus believes these things so deeply it moves him into action!
Jesus believes the Kingdom of God is accessible.
In verse 15 Jesus begins his ministry with the words, “The time has come, the kingdom of God is here.” Powerful and bold words spoken to culture that had been wrapped into another kingdom, Rome’s, and believed that God’s kingdom would come forcefully and politically. But Jesus, see, knows what the kingdom of God is. He has a deep belief that God’s kingdom, is inaugurated with his coming and is fully accessible to those who seek it.
So what does he do with this belief? He get’s into action. He goes out into his society with a message unlike any they have really heard before – that the kingdom they are longing for and looking for is here, now and fully accessible.
Jesus has a deep belief that the kingdom isn’t only reserved for another time or another place, but that it is fully possible for those who would listen to his voice to enter into and live in that kingdom in the present – without having to wait!
For Jesus the kingdom was now and the kingdom was accessible. However, I believe that we, the US church, live as though the kingdom is sometime else and someplace else. This is manifested in so many ways in our lives: a lack of urgency around the mission of God, lots of resignation that anything in this life is going to be or get better, spiritual disconnectedness and the list could go on…
Jesus held a deep belief in his capacity to transform lives.
Let’s face it, it takes a certain amount of ego (yeah, that term will probably bother most of you) to invite someone to follow you as a disciple – and more so on the first day of school! But he did it didn’t he? He asks Simon Peter & Andrew and then also James & John to leave their family business to follow him. Why?
Because he is going to transform their lives, turn them upside down, and make them fishers of men. What? These are unschooled men – considered boys in our culture – and he is going to do what? Look at what he says, “I will make you…”
Jesus believes so deeply in his ability to bring about personal transformation that he not only invites them to follow him, but he makes a massive promise at the same time! Jesus belief is so deep, that he doesn’t waste any time and begins inviting others into his journey right from the beginning. Why? Because he knows. He knows the kingdom of God is here and that he transforms lives.
Jesus held profound belief in our capacity too!
Think about it. Really. In fact, take 60 seconds to reflect on this – Jesus asks us to repent as we would receive the kingdom of God. Repent means to change. Repentance is not saying “I’m sorry.” It is a radical turning in one’s life from disobedience to radical obedience. Follow my logic here: Jesus is fully God, God is fully & always completely loving, therefore everything Jesus does and says is completely loving. Even asking us to change! What wouldn’t be loving is is Jesus was to tell everyone to transform their lives knowing that it just can’t happen. That would be cruelty.
Then he goes on. He tells Peter and Andrew that he will make them into something new. We must be able to change if part of Jesus’ promise is that very transformation.
I don’t know about, but I know that I have spent a larger portion of my life than I wish I had full of resignation that anything can actually be different in my life, the way I am, the sins I struggle with and etc…
That’s what Jesus promised!
Jesus’ deep belief in the potential transformation of those who are made in his image moves him to leave the Father’s side. Jesus’ deep belief in you – his belief in me – is so profound he just can’t sit still and dream wistfully. He got into action around it.
In John 15 so many of these dots are connected for us. Jesus proclaims to us that if we abide in him and he abides in us, we will bear much fruit – kingdom fruit. Jesus also tells us in John 15 that our transformation is only possible in that abiding relationship – apart from him we can do nothing. Nothing.
I don’t want to do nothing.
I want a deep belief in the presence of God’s kingdom. I want a deep belief in Jesus’ power to redeem. I want a deep belief that I too can be transformed.
I don’t want to do nothing.