Friday after the First Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: St. Mark 1:12-15 (NKJV)
1:12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13 And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.
14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus begins His earthly ministry by proclaiming that the kingdom of God is at hand. God’s kingdom is wherever He is forgiving penitent sinners. God’s kingdom is wherever He is absolving the guilt of sin and freeing consciences that have been terrorized by the Law’s condemnation. Because the reign of God is at hand in the person of Christ, His message is simple. “Repent and believe in the gospel.”
The Apology of the Augsburg Confession states about this passage, “in the first member He convicts of sins; in the latter He consoles us, and shows the remission of sins. For to believe the Gospel is not that general faith which devils also have [is not only to believe the history of the Gospel], but in the proper sense it is to believe that the remission of sins has been granted for Christ’s sake. For this is revealed in the Gospel. You see also here that the two parts are joined, contrition when sins are reproved, and faith, when it is said: Believe the Gospel.” (Apology, Article XII: Of Repentance, 45).
This was Jesus’ preaching. It was John’s preaching. It is the Apostles’ preaching as well. Christ sent them into the world with the message “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). We then bear the fruits of repentance, which consists in putting our sins away and striving for good works of love for our neighbor. The Christian faith begins and ends with repentance and remission of sins, confession and absolution, with sorrow over sins and joy in the Lamb of God that takes away our sin.
Gracious Lord, give us Your Holy Spirit so that we might daily repent and believe the Gospel for our salvation and joy. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.