Tag: <span>kingdom of god</span>

Summary: Once Jesus’ ministry is rolling in the Gospel according to Mark, conflict emerges and dividing lines are drawn. Mark has a way with surprises; Jesus’ own family and religious authorities misunderstand who he is and what he is up to. But crowds of unnamed people remain with him, often doing little more than showing up and following. Jesus appears to welcome their presence, as seen in this scene when he describes a crowd as his true kin and commends them for doing “the will of God.” It appears Jesus is not calling for heroism or perfection. Rather, he seeks recognition. Down the road in Mark he will remind us that discipleship calls for our whole selves. But at this point in the story, being present and sticking around is what he’s looking for. This is good news for all of us, reminding us that faith is not so much about subscribing to doctrine and more about attaching oneself to Jesus and his efforts to bring the reign of God to fruition.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Mark 3:20-35. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: general audience

Summary: When Jesus calls his first followers, he makes a declaration to them and to everyone around him that it’s time for something new. Something, perhaps the arrest of John or the urging of the Holy Spirit, prompts Jesus to launch a public ministry to make the reign of God known. Preachers have a responsibility to make similar declarations, knowing when the time is right to take a stand or to direct a congregation into a new season of service and advocacy. That kind of discernment is difficult for any preacher, but we should be encouraged by knowing that many are longing for a time of liberation and that we do this work as followers of a Jesus who leads the way in announcing that the time of fulfillment has arrived.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Mark 1:14-20. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus speaks of his commission to bring fire to the earth and division to human society. He criticizes his listeners for failing to be able to discern the true character of the present age. His words are sharp, his imagery frightening. At the heart of the passage, however, is Jesus’ expression of his own ardent desire to see justice flourish in the world. The time is now to commit oneself to that, for this season of repentance means that Jesus is urgently calling his hearers to align themselves with God’s priorities. Here, at the thresholds of our own looming mortality and the promised arrival of God’s kingdom in all its fullness, we have an opportunity to share in God’s commitment to remake the whole landscape of human well-being.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus promises “the kingdom” to his followers. He urges them to sell possessions and give to those who need money. He tells a parable about slaves waiting diligently for their master to return and then being surprised to have their master serve them dinner when at last he arrives. Finally he likens the return of the Son of Man to the experience of having a thief break into one’s house. A variety of themes work their way through this passage. It has the capacity to reassure Jesus’ followers of their security while also making them wonder about that security. The passage is especially helpful for getting a sense of how wealth and generosity—very prominent themes in the Gospel of Luke—figure in securing “treasure in heaven.” Jesus expects his disciples to do more than give money away; he calls them to enter into solidarity with those who lack resources.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: With two short parables about seeds that grow and flourish, Jesus describes the reign (kingdom) of God as something that will indeed blossom. It may take time for that to occur, and the outcome may not look magnificent according to conventional standards of power and greatness. The emergence of that new state of affairs is nevertheless definitely going to occur, possibly not what we were expecting, and certain to provide benefits.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Neither Jesus’ own kin nor the premier theological interpreters of his day could discern the truth about him and his authority to inaugurate the reign of God. Their confusion and skepticism cause them to fall back on labels—“demonic” and “insane”—that betray a lack of imagination and openness. Jesus responds by describing his work as overcoming humanity’s captivity to evil and as forging new familial relationships and identity. He thus declares his intention to bring about wholesale change.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: When Jesus’ actions and words concerning the sabbath upset a group of Pharisees, Mark’s Gospel begins to draw attention to why some of Jesus’ contemporaries found him so controversial. The two scenes in this passage illustrate the liberative character of God’s reign (kingdom) and show some religious leaders to be resistant to that liberation. Their resistance results in the narrative’s first indications of the opposition that will finally overwhelm Jesus.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Paying attention to at least five aspects of the Gospel according to Mark will allow preachers to show congregations this Gospel’s perspective on the world and the impact of Jesus’ life and ministry. Mark describes good news of incursion, deliverance, and mercy. Jesus brings God’s reign (kingdom) into being as he breaches and redefines presumed boundaries. He eludes easy definition. Mark nevertheless directs attention to outsiders who possess keen insights into Jesus. The Messiah’s rejection and death provide the model of discipleship.

Read the full article, the second of two, at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: The Gospel according to Mark depicts Jesus’ arrival, teaching, and actions as an incursion, as God’s effort to enter the world and defeat hostile foes for the sake of inaugurating God’s reign (kingdom). Mark depicts a Jesus who eludes ordinary means of perception; the Messiah defies conventional expectations. Those who preach from Mark do well to imitate the Gospel’s apocalyptic tenor by seeing their task as making visible the inscrutable activity of God.

Read the full article, the first of two, at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Even the briefest parables tell tales of massive upheaval. Jesus’ parables of the hidden leaven and the mustard seeds describe small acts of infiltration that have tremendous consequences. His parables of the treasure in a field and the pearl of great price are about the overturning of value systems and entirely reordered lives. The kingdom of heaven, it appears, involves more than most of us might have expected. It will get into everything.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. It was originally a guest contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary