Jesus Begins His Work
(Mark 1.14,15; Luke 4.14,15)
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he went to Galilee. 13 But instead of staying in Nazareth, Jesus moved to Capernaum. This town was beside Lake Galilee in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14So God's promise came true, just as the prophet Isaiah had said,
15 “Listen, lands of Zebulun
lands along the road
to the sea
and across the Jordan.
land of the Gentiles!
16Although your people
live in darkness,
they will see
a bright light.
Although they live
in the shadow of death,
a light will shine
17 Then Jesus started preaching, “Turn back to God! The kingdom of heaven will soon be here.”
(Mark 1.16-20; Luke 5.1-11)
18While Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers. One was Simon, also known as Peter, and the other was Andrew. They were fishermen, and they were casting their net into the lake. 19Jesus said to them, “Follow me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish.” 20Right then the two brothers dropped their nets and went with him.
21Jesus walked on until he saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat with their father, mending their nets. Jesus asked them to come with him. 22At once they left the boat and their father and went with Jesus.
Jesus Teaches, Preaches,
23 Jesus went all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news about God's kingdom. He also healed every kind of disease and sickness. 24News about him spread all over Syria, and people with every kind of sickness or disease were brought to him. Some of them had a lot of demons in them, others were thought to be crazy, and still others could not walk. But Jesus healed them all.
25Large crowds followed Jesus from Galilee and the region around the ten cities known as Decapolis. They also came from Jerusalem, Judea, and from across the Jordan River.
Verse 17: ‘From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
From that time on. I suggest everything Jesus does from here on in can be grouped under the category of preaching. This includes, as the passage indicates, calling disciples, proclaiming the Kingdom, casting out demons, healing the sick. All these things are expressions of preaching. They are effects of preaching. They are what preaching sets in motion.
For preaching is more than the exchange of information. It is the power that looses the wind that makes dead bones live. It is the breath of God unleashed afresh through the breath of a man or woman. It is performative and transformative—it makes things happen, and it changes what is. Preaching is wind and fire and rock and sword. It is a word that goes out and does not return void.
Preaching announces. It declares a new reality, a living hope, a fresh start. The Kingdom of heaven has come near, all preaching says, implicitly or explicitly. Repent. Change your mind. Get in on it.
And preaching calls. Just as Jesus issues a call to his first disciples, so preaching accosts the hearer and demands, at once and immediately, a response: Come, follow Jesus. It is urgent and uncompromising, displacing all other obligations.
And preaching heals. It releases a new possibility in a world of disease, darkness, paralysis, pain, demons. Nothing that defies God or hides God is safe in a world where the word is proclaimed.
Jesus, John tells us, is the word made flesh. He
Are you listening?
May I submit to the word made flesh. May the preaching of your word never return void in my life. May it invite me deeper into your kingdom, further into your calling, and heal whatever defies or hides you. In Jesus’ name I ask. Amen