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  • Writer's pictureJohn Bryant

Mark 1: 14-15 To Only Say One Thing For Two Thousand Years

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

When I first read this passage, I took it as an invitation. We have the picture of Jesus as gentle. We think maybe we have, in him, an open door. Christ as Eternal Welcome. I do not think this is wrong, but it is not what I hear in this. Or, it is not what my week has heard. I wonder, as you read, what you hear.

What I hear in it, today, is a claim. A flag planted over conquered territory. I hear the solemn boast of a New Age, a New Way of Doing Things. As John’s ministry ends, Christ steps toward us with News.

“The time is fulfilled,” the kind of time that isn’t the numbers on a clock. It’s the kind of time when a pregnant woman says, “It’s time,” or when the villain gets what’s coming to them, “It’s about time.” When time is not a river, when Time is the midwife of something new, for a new situation, a new reality, a new people.

When time is asked to nurture and develop and then hand something over. The Kingdom of God begins with a wet screaming Baby, so vulnerable it cannot speak. And it comes into town when He comes into town as a man, and says,

“Repent and believe in the Gospel”

Christ says it, on that day. And He keeps saying it. After the Resurrection He eats with people in their homes and says it. When He ascends he asks us to wait for the coming of Spirit so we can say it. Then the Spirit helps us for thousands of years fumble to say it.

This week I see Christ coming into this town, and saying it again.

Saying this one thing.

“Repent and Believe in the Gospel”

To be patient enough to only say that for the next 2,000 years. For God to wait to say it, yo say it in His Son, and then to only have that to say for all eternity and all time.

“Repent and believe the Gospel”

And we, half-hearted ministers that we are, wait for people to be a creation of this Word, and not ours.

And me, half-hearted minister that I am, knowing at my best, only that Word can do anyone any good. As I sit here, and read and pray, and wait to be the creation of the Word of God. And wait for the people I love, the people I walk with and see regularly on park benches and soup kitchens. Wait, patiently wait, for them to be the creation of the Word of God, not the creation of my Ego, the creation of my Great Urgency.

People have asked me, as I do my job as Street Pastor, if people are always asking for money, always asking for stuff. I do not think I’m special, but I can honestly say that hardly happens. And that kind of help is very little, if at all, what I do.

Most of what I do is waiting. Waiting for people to tell me their name. Waiting for people to introduce themselves. Waiting for them to want to talk.

And when people do want something, it seems, most of what people want is to struggle with something in front of me.

A man with schizophrenia talks to me. I know him well enough, and like him very much. Listening to him though, it’s like a radio going in and out, only one out of every four words makes sense, only one out of every few sentences clear. But he looks at me with childlike eyes and says this.

“Does the Holy Spirit convict you of Sin?”

There is something he needs to confess, I know. Something he needs to tell somebody. But he doesn’t have words for it yet. But he feels the Spirit pushing him to walk down the street and try.

A man who passed by me for months now finally wants to talk to me. He is obviously drunk, but his eyes are wide and he’s telling me about his life. I can tell he’s trying to get something out, trying to tell me something its hard to talk about. When he loses the thread, he comes back to the story of Jesus with the lady at the Well.

“We all got to go to the Well,” he says, “We all got to go there.”

I think of both those men. I think of their struggle. I think of how the struggle places us in Christ, not outside him.

I think of Jesus telling us the Kingdom is here and then saying “Repent,” and then waiting on the cross, in the tomb, in the heavens.

I think of return as part of the gift of the Gospel, not outside it, or a condition of it.

Repentance is how we know the Kingdom has come. Because the Kingdom creates it.

I think of repentance as a creation of the Word of God. I think of repentance as a creation of the Gospel.

And so I will wait for them on the street. And pray I pass them by. I will wait for them to tell me what they need to. To be there as they struggle, to create a place where they can struggle to be the creation of the Word of God, to struggle with the repentance Christ claims in the heart of man.

I think of the friend that time is to a minister. How did God decide to wait so long? Why did God become the begrudging friend of time?

I think of time as a midwife of the Gospel, patiently bearing it to us year after year, decade after decade, waiting so that the Gospel can create repentance, so that God can create a people who return, so that God can create the return of God’s people.

And for me, for you, to bear patiently with God’s people, so that repentance can be a creation and not a coercion.

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