The first words that Jesus speaks in Mark’s Gospel are these: "The time stands fulfilled and the kingdom of God stands near." Only Mark among the Gospels includes in Jesus’ proclamation the statement about fulfilled time in relation to the coming of God’s kingdom. The witness of the Old Testament prophets (1:2-3), John the Baptist (1:4-8), God Himself (1:9-11), and satan (1:12-13) have all signaled that someone very special has arrived, in complete harmony with God’s planning.
"Time fulfilled" is code that marks the beginning of a new action by God. He has a schedule for implementing His rule that He is following, only partially known to humanity and only as He chooses to reveal it. Yet it lies behind all that happens in our world. When Jesus preaches that "the time stands fulfilled", he declares himself to be God’s prophet, one to whom God has revealed knowledge about His kingdom schedule and plan. Further, he warns us that a strategic new stage in God’s activity is beginning and we must pay attention and discern what God is doing, otherwise we will be unable to keep in step with God. Part of this plan includes an unprecedented attack upon satan and the evil that he fosters.
In a very real sense Mark’s entire story about Jesus revolves around people recognizing or failing to recognize what "time" it is according to God’s schedule. Even the disciples struggle to understand what God is doing in Jesus. The demons know who Jesus is, but do not seem to realize why he has come.
God’s schedule does not end with the cross and Jesus’ resurrection. One event still to occur is the return of the Son of Man (13:26-27, 32-33). Jesus himself told us that we do not know "when that time is". All we, as God’s people, can do is to be in a constant state of readiness, vigilant and watching. The initial fulfillment of God’s time (1:15) gives us confidence that the second part of God’s plan will arrive on schedule, even though only He knows when that will happen. We live in the time of repentance, serving God in confident belief that "the coming age of eternal life" will arrive when God is ready.
- thank God today that He has a plan that spans eternity;
- acknowledge your God-given part in His plan, graciously provided through Jesus and enabled by the Holy Spirit’s presence;
- live today in the light of the "next time" which is about to be fulfilled.