"This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand." (Mark 1:15) So Jesus began his public ministry. And using the gift of hindsight, we can see how dramatic and revolutionary this proclamation was.
Looking back through the lens of the cross and resurrection, we know that Jesus’ announcement of the “kingdom of God” really had changed everything.
But how did the people of Jesus’ time hear these words? Did they really consider his message of the kingdom new and exciting?
In some ways, we would have to say no. In fact, we could imagine many Galileans shrugging their shoulders when they heard that a carpenter’s son from Nazareth was making the rounds, announcing that the time had come for God to fulfill his promises. Messianic preachers were common around this time. There were the Essenes—a semi-monastic group who lived along the Dead Sea in anticipation of final judgment of the righteous. There were the Zealots—small pockets of Jewish nationalists who were plotting the overthrow of the Roman Empire so that Israel could…
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