Sunday, January 28, 2024

Opposition Begins

Jesus began to proclaim the Kingdom of God in Galilee following the arrest of John the Baptist, an incident that foreshadowed the opposition he would face throughout his ministry. Resistance to him would culminate in his arrest, trial, and execution in Jerusalem. His message brought fulfillment but also adversity. Unlike the prophets of old, his work did NOT begin or center in Jerusalem, though it certainly ended there.

Though unsure of who he was, many men responded to him enthusiastically and flocked to hear the Nazarene. In contrast, the religious leaders associated with the Temple were offended by his teachings, methods, and deeds from the beginning.

Narrow Path - Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash
[Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash]

Jesus was neither a Pharisee nor a Scribe, and he was not a member of the priestly class. He had no connection to the Temple. Instead, he visited the synagogues of Galilee and proclaimed the Kingdom of God. He astounded all who heard him, “
for he taught them as one with authority, and not as the scribes did.”

  • (Mark 1:14-15) - "After John was delivered up, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God and saying: The SEASON IS FULFILLED, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel.”

He summoned disciples to leave their homes and livelihoods to follow him. Jesus had authority over demons and diseases, and he even healed lepers by touching them while remaining free of the ritual impurities associated with the disease - (Mark 1:16-45).

The time to repent and believe the Gospel had arrived, for the long-awaited Messiah was present in Galilee, but his ministry did not begin until after the arrest of John by Herod Antipas - (Luke 3:19-20, Matthew 4:12-17).

The Gospel of Matthew points to his arrival in Galilee as the fulfillment of the Messianic passage in the Book of Isaiah, and so, his work began on a strong note of fulfillment:

  • The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, near the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Nations. The people that sat in darkness saw a great light, and to them that sat in the region and shadow of death did light spring up – (Matthew 4:15, Isaiah 9:1-2).

In the parallel passage in the Gospel of Mark, the Greek verb translated as “delivered up” is theologically significant (paradidōmi). It is applied repeatedly by Mark to the “handing over” of the faithful for abuse by religious and governmental authorities, and especially to the betrayal of Jesus into the hands of his persecutors.

The Baptist also was “handed over” for arrest though this was according to the plan of God. The descriptions of Jesus being “handed over” allude to the horrific fate of Isaiah’s ‘Servant of Yahweh’ and his suffering on behalf of others:

  • Because his soul was HANDED OVER to death, and he was numbered among the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many and was HANDED OVER because of their iniquities - (Mark 9:31, 10:33, Isaiah 53:12).

The Gospel of Mark coordinates the start of Christ’s mission with John’s arrest. This is so the reader understands that his ministry did not begin until the completion of the preparatory work of the Baptist.

John’s arrest meant that the proclamation of the Gospel began in adversity. The Baptist withdrew to the wilderness to administer a baptism of repentance. In contrast, Jesus traveled to the populated regions of Galilee and Judea to announce the “Good News” to everyone who would hear and receive it.


Jesus declared, “The appointed time is fulfilled.” The English term represents the Greek noun Kairos, meaning, “season, time, the opportune time.” The Greek verb translated as “fulfilled” is in the Greek perfect tense, signifying a completed action. His announcement echoed a key passage in the Book of Daniel:

  • (Daniel 12:4-9) – “Close up the words and seal the book until the time of the end… And I heard but could not understand, so I said, O my lord, what shall be the issue of these things? Then said he: Go your way, Daniel; for closed up and sealed are the words until the time of the end.”

Thus, when Jesus appeared in Galilee, the “time of the end” arrived, the “Last Days” and the time of fulfillment had commenced, and in earnest. His preaching had an eschatological orientation since the promised Kingdom had arrived in his person and ministry. This why his announcement of God’s Kingdom was and remains “Good News” – (Daniel 2:44-45, Daniel 7:13-14, 7:27).

The term “Kingdom of God” refers to the rule of God. The Greek word translated as “Kingdom” means “dominion,” “realm,” and “reign.” As used by Jesus, it is the reign of God over all things administered through His Son.

The concept relies heavily on the Book of Daniel – (e.g., “The Son of Man was given dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and tongues should serve him.” Daniel 7:14).

How did individuals respond to his message? First, Jesus called men to “repent.” Second, he summoned them to “believe” the Good News. Like the Baptist, he proclaimed the imminence of the “Kingdom,” and its rapid approach necessitated immediate repentance and faith.

Mountain path - Photo by Brian Erickson on Unsplash
[Photo by Brian Erickson on Unsplash]

Although the arrival of the Kingdom was “
Good News” for many, it also signaled judgment for others. Thus, Jesus would baptize men “in spirit and fire”; the “spirit” of life for some, but the “fire” of judgment for others. A man’s fate depended on how he responded to him and his message.

Repentance” is a turning away from something, while “belief” is turning toward something else, namely, faith in the Gospel and the one who inaugurated the Kingdom and pronounced the Good News.

Thus, starting with the arrest of John the Baptist, the proclamation of the Kingdom met with resistance from its earliest days, since the “Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

  • The Kingdom Herald - (After his baptism, the Spirit drove Jesus to the wilderness to be tested by the Devil. But he overcame and succeeded where Israel failed)
  • Servant or Caesar? - (Satan offered Jesus unlimited political power to achieve his messianic mission if only he acknowledged the Devil as his overlord)