“The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand.”v.15
Imagine living in an area prone to tornadoes or hurricanes. For some of you that’s not too hard. Let’s say you were in charge of watching the radar and warning your community in the case of an approaching storm. One bright and sunny day you notice a massive storm of unprecedented destructive power on the radar. The storm will reach your community in three days. It will be more destructive than any in history. What would you do? Keep it to yourself? Casually mention it to a few close friends? Of course not. You would get the word out with great urgency. So why is it then, that we tend to share the gospel as if it were any less urgent? When Jesus came preaching his gospel, unlike some “gospels” we hear today, his was a message of life and death. He wasn’t asking people to like him. He wasn’t looking for approval. He was announcing the greatest message of all time. Jesus gospel is not some casual self help message. His gospel is immediate and urgent. Many of us talk about the message of salvation with no more passion than we talk about buying toothpaste. We need to take a look at the preaching of Jesus and rediscover the urgency of our message.
“The time is fulfilled…” – Jesus preached a message that was immediate. Throughout the Bible we see God’s plan for Israel and the world unfolding with perfect timing. The God of history did not throw together a universe in a haphazard frenzy. He did not send his Son as some sort of last ditch effort to fix humanity. From the predictions of the prophets, to the birth of Jesus and through his life, death and resurrection, everything happened according to God’s plan. When Jesus began preaching he said the time is fulfilled. The Greek word for “fulfilled” was often used to describe a cargo ship that was fully loaded and ready to set sail. Jesus said, in effect, God’s movement has set sail. Now is the time to respond to God. Our Lord never asks us to think about coming to Him and come when we’re ready. We must respond to God’s timing. This is why Paul wrote, “Now is the day of salvation. Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart.” (2 Cor. 6:1-2) Whenever you hear the gospel you either accept it or reject it at that moment. I tremble when I think of how many times I heard the gospel and told myself I could wait a little longer. God does not owe us a second chance to say yes to his invitation. How many times will God graciously call you before you answer? Will this be your last hearing?
“The kingdom of heaven is at hand…”- Jesus message was urgent. He was not out recruiting people to join a religion. He was announcing the presence of a kingdom. Too many preachers sound like recruiters or marketers. They want to make sure we package the gospel and make it look relevant and cool. We want to dress it up with a lot of marketing hype so the casual religious shopper will want to wander into our place and check out the bargains on the life improvement display. Jesus is less a recruiter for the religious marketplace than a weather forecaster in the path of an approaching hurricane. ” It’s here! It’s Big! It’s relevance will soon become clear. So prepare yourself.” Friends, if you think you have to make the gospel relevant there’s a good chance you have forgotten the gospel altogether. There’s a storm coming. It’s the storm of God’s rule on the earth. It’s been breaking in for centuries. Whole cultures have been changed by it. Empires have failed to stop it. No amount of opposition or persecution has stilled it’s influence. And if you think Jesus first coming impacted history, just wait till He appears again. Better yet, don’t wait. Get on board with God’s kingdom. You cannot afford to wait. The kingdom of God was not created for your convenience but for God’s glory and for your good. There’s a storm coming. Are you ready?