‘Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” Mark 1:14-15
I like new things. Specifically, I like new things that don’t break. There is good reason for this. I was raised in a home were things were constantly breaking. This was partly due to the fact my father was in the military and wasn’t always around to keep up on things. However, more often something broke because my father was cheap. The new things he bought generally fell apart because they either lacked quality or had previously been used by someone else. As a child, I grew frustrated with this and vowed to never be like my father in this way. Now as an adult, I will save my money until I can afford to purchase a new and higher quality product.
We also live in a society which loves new things. Whether it’s the newest technology, the newest music record, or the new car; we like new stuff. In the coming week we will celebrate a new year and with it make our resolutions and vows. We will attempt to commit to doing something new in 2018. We say to ourselves things like: “I’m going on a diet” or “I’m going exercise three times a week” or even “I’m going to make my bed everyday.” We aim to implement new things into our lives because we are tired of the old way of doing things.
As Jesus began his ministry he declared, “The time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” When he made this proclamation, he wasn’t proclaiming something old, but something new. God was doing a new work that had been foretold and hoped for in ages past. God’s Kingdom was now before humanity in Jesus Christ and as he comes he brings newness and life. This is precisely why Jesus says, “repent and believe in the gospel.”
Newness is a distinct characteristic of the Kingdom of Heaven. We find this not only in the Old Testament allusions, but throughout Jesus’ life and ministry. He turns water into new wine, he raised Lazarus from the dead giving him new life, and he ushers in a new teaching with authority. Jesus teaches through him, by trusting in him for salvation one can have new life, an eternal and everlasting life. Jesus was in the business of making things new.
We will celebrate a new year. Most of us will probably try something new in our life. Our culture will continue to be about new things and we will continue to desire new things. However, those things will eventually become old things. Our goals will either be unmet or if met will disappoint us at some level. The new stuff quickly becomes old stuff, loses its appeal and the cycle continues. At some level we will always find ourselves wanting and disappointed with the new and long for something greater.
Jesus’ challenge to us this new year to try something new, but unconventional. This new thing is something which never becomes old, never leaves you unsatisfied and never will fail you. This new way of living comes at a cost though. We are all in the business of ruling our own little kingdoms. We like to be in charge, we like to make the decisions, and we like to live life the way we think is best. But if you want the newness Jesus offers you, you must understand it is a newness that comes at the cost of letting go of your kingdom and letting God’s kingdom into your life. It means letting Jesus be your Lord, allowing his will to direct your life and living for a kingdom that isn’t yours but his. Are you willing to try something new this year or are you satisfied with the old cycle? Will you have the courage to turn from your way and turn to God’s way?