Sermon for Epiphany 3 – 1.21.24

+ 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany – January 21st, 2024 +

Series B: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-35; Mark 1:14-20

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“Good News”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

First moments are an important part of life. A child’s first words or their first steps. Your first job or first college acceptance letter. The first time you met your husband or wife. The tricky part about life’s first moments is that they often happen quickly, and then life goes on. No wonder so many parents watch with their phones and cameras at the ready for that moment their toddler takes his or her first steps. Sometimes we wish we could slow down the moment, make it last longer. Savor it.

 

Today’s Gospel reading from Mark 1 gives us a first moment in the life and ministry of Jesus as well. Jesus’ first sermon.

 

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

 

In Mark’s Gospel, not only is this Jesus’ first sermon…these are the first words Jesus speaks. Up until now the prophets have spoken. John the Baptist has spoken. God the Father has spoken at Jesus’ baptism. And now, Jesus speaks. He preaches. Blink and you might miss it.

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Even though the disciples didn’t have smart phones or YouTube channels back in the day, they did have words. Mark recorded these words for us so we can slow down, take our time. Savor the words of our Savior.

 

The time is fulfilled…What time? What fulfillment? What does Jesus mean? The appointed time, the long expected day, the right moment, as Paul says…in the fullness of time God sent forth his Son to be born of a woman born under the Law to redeem us who were under the Law, that we would receive adoption as sons.The time is fulfilled. And where there’s fulfillment, there’s a promise.

 

God’s word is many things, one of which is a promise that is full of many promises all at once. God promised Adam and Eve a child who would crush the serpent. God promised Abraham descendants more numerous than the stars. God promised Isaac the same thing…that through his offspring all nations on the earth would be blessed. Jacob, too, received this promise. Years and generations went by. Ruth and Boaz. Obed. Jesse. David. Solomon. Kings and prophets came and went but God’s promise remained. And finally, in the most unlikely places of all, the womb of the humble, poor Virgin Mary, God’s promise became a person. The King was clothed in humanity. And the Kingdom of God became flesh.

 

The kingdom of God isn’t so much a what or a where, as it is a who. Jesus is the king and the kingdom. He rules and reigns not by tyranny and coercion and deceit – like the rulers of this world – but in mercy, grace, and steadfast love. The kingdom of God is Jesus…and his kingdom is wherever he is. As Jesus was calling his disciples and teaching and preaching the kingdom of God was at hand, in their midst. Right there talking with them face to face. Teaching. Preaching. Healing. Casting out demons. Walking. Talking. Eating. Drinking. Sleeping. All the while making his way to his coronation and enthronement on the cross outside Jerusalem for you.

 

When Jesus says the kingdom of God is at hand, that his rule and reign is near…that was true then as he spoke it…but because it’s him speaking it, it is still true. Because of his life, death, and resurrection…his kingdom has no end. So his kingdom comes in his word, in his supper, in your baptism, in his church, in the forgiveness of sins. Why? Because the King is at hand. Jesus is here in his church, in your lives, in his word, in your baptism, in his supper, in the bread and wine you eat. Jesus is not absent. No. He promises. He is present. The Kingdom and the King are at hand.

This is good news for us.

 

Which brings us back to the words of Jesus’ first sermon.

 

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

 

Repent and believe the Gospel. What do those words mean? We say them a lot, but have you ever slowed down to think about what they mean? Repent – to turn. To change your mind. You were going this way, now you go that way. Repentance is a return to God. And repentance begins with God. It’s his gift, his work, his doing. We wouldn’t repent of anything unless he gave us his Holy Spirit and worked that turning back to him within us, unless he repented us, unless he changes our hearts and minds. And the good news is he does.

 

And that’s what that word Gospel means. Good news. Paul says the Gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. What does Jesus mean when he says, repent and believe the Gospel? What is the good news he is bringing? Our first thought, hopefully, is something like this: “Jesus lived, died, and rose for me, to take away my sin and give eternal life with him in heaven.”

 

This is good. This is true. This is the gospel. This is good news. Although In the context of Mark 1, we are not there yet at the cross. Jesus is heading that way. And that good news of his death and resurrection for you and for the world is yours; it has been announced, it is announced here.

 

In Mark 1, Jesus is heading to towards his death and resurrection, and the good news that comes to us all because of it. But even before he gets there, there is good news, there is Gospel. He is the King and the kingdom and he is present. He is living sign that God’s promises were kept for you. Even though John was in prison at the beginning of this reading, even though the disciples didn’t understand it all yet, even though we don’t always understand it, even though we have trials and suffering in this life just as they did…there is good news for you in Jesus.

 

The Good News is his promise kept for you in Jesus. His Good News is that Jesus is the King and the Kingdom and he is at hand. Right here. Right now. Today. In his word. Right in the middle of whatever you’re going through – a good day or a bad day; a cold or something far more serious. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus is not far; he is near. He is with you. In the forgiveness you receive in his name. In your baptism. In the bread and wine of his supper. In your daily life. In all those times when it looks as if God will not keep his promises, or as if your life looks like the complete opposite of what you thought it would be. Remember Jesus’ first sermon. Remember Jesus’ promise. Remember the good news.

 

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;  live in repentance and faith. Hear his word. Fill your lives and ears with his promises. And believe in the gospel.

 

Christ your king, his kingdom, and all his gifts are at hand. Rejoice and receive the good news.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977