Same Message, Second Verse

This morning I continued to wrestle with John the Baptist’s message from Luke 3. We learned yesterday that John’s theme in preaching was that of repentance. During my study, I also took time to read Mark’s accounting of John’s preaching and imprisonment, and found this inaugural message Jesus preached soon after John’s arrest:

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Mark 1:14-15

Let’s review a few passages from Luke 3 to notice how John’s preaching on repentance set the stage for Jesus’ message:

And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Luke 3:3

So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.
Luke 3:18

That is not by accident. John was preaching a message repentance because he was preparing the way for Jesus to preach His message, which is also a message of repentance.

Now to get to the meat of the matter let’s break down Jesus’ message much like a football coach breaks down an opposing team’s offense or defense.

Now after John was arrested…

Jesus’ first recorded message comes soon after what we read in Luke 3:18-20. The timing is paramount in that it shows Jesus picks up right were John the Baptist left off preparing the way for Him.

…Jesus came into Galilee…

Matthew records why Jesus started His ministry in Galilee:

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
Matthew 4:12-16

Jesus started His ministry in Galilee to prove, once again, He was the Promised Messiah by fulfilling Old Testament prophecy as recorded in Isaiah.

…proclaiming the gospel of God…

Jesus’ message was the gospel. In short, the gospel means good news.

The word for gospel in the New Testament is “euangelion”. It is built out of prefix that means good or joyful and a root word that means message or news. The word was used widely in the New Testament world to mean “the message of victory, but also used of political and private messages bringing joy” (Ulrich Becker, “Gospel, Evangelize Evangelist,” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols., ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2986), 2:107).

So, Jesus arrives in Galilee proclaiming His message. And what is that message?

…and saying, “The time is fulfilled,

What time is it? Mark explains. Jesus has been introduced by John the Baptist (Mark 1:1-8). He’s been inaugurated by His baptism (Mark 1:9-13). He was tested and proven by His wilderness temptation experience (Mark 1:12-13). It is now time for Jesus to start telling His story, and His story if the Gospel.

Jesus makes reference His time being fulfilled through John’s Gospel account of His life (see John 2:4; 7:30; 12:23; 13:1; 17:1). We learn from this simple phrase, and from His statement in Mark that the earthly ministry of Jesus is all about timing. That is why this section begins with a time statement, “After John was put in prison.”

“…and the kingdom of God is at hand…”

What does this mean? It means that God’s rule in the hearts of man begins now! It means that God has come to man to establish His Sovereign way in humans.


The word repent is a well-worn, often misunderstood word. It means a radical change of heart, a complete turnabout of life. Repentance is more than feeling sorry for your sin. To repent is to not only have sorrow for the consequences, but it is also to have sorrow for the sin. Most people would not repent if they knew they could escape the consequences of their sin. That is why true repentance is a complete turnabout of your life.

“…and believe…”

To believe is to accept Jesus’ message and to act on it. Belief encompasses more than just accepting His message. Jesus wants us to accept His message and act on it. James 2:19 illustrates how belief is more than just believing facts. Jesus’ half brother wrote, “You believe there is one God. Good! Even demons believe that—and shudder.” The kind of belief Jesus is speaking of is a matter of accepting and believing into Him.

“…in the gospel.”

What is the gospel? Once again, it is the good news of God. And the good news of God is that God gave the complete sacrifice for our salvation. To word it another way, the gospel is the free gift of salvation to all mankind, which begins and ends with Christ. Our salvation is found only in Christ. Acts 4:12 states, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Do you see now why this “rabbit” I started chasing last Monday is becoming a great study in God’s Word?

The Gospel messengers may change. The Gospel messengers’ methods may change as well. Yet the Gospel message continues to remain the same, whether it was preached by Jesus, by John the Baptist or by any man who claims to be a minister of the Gospel.


2 Responses to “Same Message, Second Verse”

  1. 1 Mitchell
    October 19, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Great couple of blogs on repentance. One of the things that struck me is the necessity of understanding what the gospel is in order for one to repent and believe in it. Although my wife and I have only been at Crosspoint for a short time, we knew it would be our home church when we heard the clarity with which this church understands and proclaims the gospel—that is Christ and his work on our behalf. Many of the problems in Western Christianity stem from a distortion of the gospel that subverts it to the effects of the gospel. Repentance, belief, and joy are the effects of the gospel (glorious as they are) because they were purchased by Christ in his life, death, and resurrection. To make the effects of the gospel our lone message is to proclaim the gifts above the giver of the gifts (God himself). Let us be a church that seeks to embody and proclaim Christ and him crucified so that the grace of these effects may further the kingdom in our own lives and the lives of those to whom we minister.
    Mitch Engle

  2. 2 scotsbaker
    November 6, 2007 at 9:10 am

    I recently created the website “What Is The Gospel?” which examines the gospel preached by Peter and Paul and compares this with what many preach today in evangelism.

    The URL is http://www.whatisthegospel.org.uk

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