Series: Teachings of Jesus 1
Introducing: Blog Scripts from Gospel Life Learning! Now you can choose to read the
post...or Listen to the "Audio Script." Just click the play button on the picture below and volume on! Today's is a 10 to 11 minute listen...or if you prefer to read...keep reading further below.
What Was the First…(And Last) Teaching of Jesus?
What is the very first thing Jesus proclaimed when he began his ministry in Galilee? It’s important to look at what Jesus’ initial message was when he began his teaching ministry. Do you remember? It’s in the first chapter of Mark and the 4th chapter of Matthew.
“The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
“The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
A very short teaching. A proclamation of only 3 sentences.
But what was Jesus saying? Or in today’s common language we may ask, “What does it even mean?”
When I had read the Bible before I studied the biblical languages, I had always thought that Jesus was essentially saying, “The kingdom of God is coming; it is near.” I had assumed he was speaking about the future kingdom of God, and saying essentially, “there is a day the kingdom is coming and it is near – so repent and believe.” To me, in my lack of true depth in biblical training, I thought Jesus was referring to the future….to the coming kingdom….or even maybe he was referring to heaven or the afterlife.
But then….the Greek. So thankful for the Greek words underlying this verse.
One important thing to know about Greek verbs is they have many more tenses than we have in English, Not only do they have more tenses, the Greek verbs have additional layers of meaning embedded within the verb that we don't have. The Greek verb may tell us how it happened, orspecifically when it happened, or what kind of effects action is presently having. Our English verbs – I'm sorry by our English verbs have nothing like this.
So remember, many people think – as I thought – that Jesus was saying the kingdom of God is about to come, it has drawn near; it is about to come so believe this, and that Jesus was talking about the coming of the complete fulfillment of the Kingdom in this passage. But, that is not what he was speaking of, and I am going to explain why.
Now stay with me here – because you are going to get it too and I think it is going to become super meaningful to you when you realize what the the first teaching Jesus proclaimed signifies.
The greek verbs have a tense, called the perfect tense. It is one of the least used tenses in the New Testament. It’s only used a handful of times. The perfect tense is a very special tense because it describes an action, a verb, but there are 3 layers embedded within this verb.
First, when the perfect tense is used, it means that the action that has been working out, or has been “in process” for a time;
Second, the perfect tense signifies that the action has been in process but is completed.
And finally, third…the perfect tense indicates that the action that has been completed and will have continuing effects up until at least the present time of the speaker.
So let me give you kind of an everyday example. We have the word bake in English. Let’s say that English had this type of perfect tense and the word bake is bakotai in the perfect tense. If I say to my family, “Today I have bakotai many bread loaves.” I have actually said three things. I have said, “Today I have been in the process of making bread, the bread loaves are completed. They are finished. And now we are going to have some effects from this. We are going to experience the completion of the bread!”
When Mark wrote this passage, he specifically used the perfect tense for two of the verbs has come and for the verb come near.
So when Jesus said, “The time has come, the Kingdom of heaven has come near,” …
This means Jesus was saying that the God’s plan and his timing has been in process and has now been completed. The kingdom of God has come near and is near. Again, Jesus then is saying that the coming of the kingdom of heaven has been in process and has now come near. The coming nearness of the kingdom of God has been completed, it has already happened. And because the kingdom is now near, there will be continuing effects, we will have some continuing effects that we did not have before.
That is what Jesus was proclaiming, according to the way the gospel writer wrote it with the perfect tense.Used twice.
Jesus is not saying the kingdom of God is going to be near soon. He is not saying that the kingdom of God is nearing. He is saying that the kingdom of God is near, as of now it has come near, and because of this…there are continuing effects.
Next, Jesus says, “Repent and believe the gospel:.The word repent comes from the Greek word metanoia, and it means simply to change your mind or to change the way you think – Jesus wanted the people, and us, to change our thinking about Where God is and how near or far He may be. And he then saidl, this is good news, Believe it.
So this is the very first thing Jesus wanted to proclaim, the He wanted the people to know – that the Kingdom of God is near. And just in case you do think I am way over-exaggerating this or making too much of this…let me bring something else to your attention.
Let's think about this as the first teaching of Jesus’ ministry that we have recorded. The first teaching was that the kingdom of God is near.
What was the last thing we have recorded that Jesus told and taught his disciples, before his ascension. What did he say then?
He said, “Behold, I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” The actual translation there, word for word, is I am with you "all of the days" – always – even until the end of the age.
So Jesus began his teachings with “The Kingdom of God is near.”
Then at the end of his teaching ministry, he gave a very similar message - “I will be near; I will be with you always, all of the days, until the end of the age.”
So as I often do, I want to close out with a challenge. Not just a challenge, but an instruction. Please do what I am about to suggest. I want us to ask ourselves, honestly, “How often during my week, and during my day, do I actually take time to pause and consider, and really let it sink in, that God is Near, that Jesus is near to me in that moment and all day?
Is there something you can do to set reminders for yourself throughout the day for the next two weeksor so – reminders to just stop and reflect and remind yourself – that Jesus is near to you, at that very moment, and every day, all day?
I used a specific strategy to help me with this. I set my cell phone timer to buzz silently at my desk at work or if it was a day I was at home or running errands I still did this. I set the timer for 40 minutes. And when it went off – I silenced it, and took a moment to just remind myself and think to myself. “God is near. He is near right now. Thank you Godfor being near.” Then I just tapped reset on the timer….and did the same thing each 40 minutes that I could, all throughout the days for about 2 weeks.
I can promise you that if you are able to do that, to set up reminders for yourself to stop and merely reflect on the fact that God is near to you at that moment…I can promise you that by the end of two weeks you will have retrained your brain to remember and to instinctively know that “God is Near” to you all throughout the days.
Friends, the people who are really walking with God. And the people who are experiencing Him and seeing him work in their lives...– they are the ones who have mastered this thinking – mastered remembering that God is there. Because we have toremember that He is there in the first place, to be able to go with Him, and to experience Him. Right? If we don’t keep this constant knowledge that he is nearby – then we end up trying to do too much on our own when he is there and wants to help carry our load.
Again, the challenge is this: Do something today. Set up some strategy today that you will implement for at least the next 2 weeks. The strategy, whether you use the timer like I did or use something else…it should prompt you to keep remembering that God is near. When we keep this knowledge of his nearness with us continuously, or as frequently as we are able, we then begin to truly walk our lives with the spirit of Jesus right alongside us.
If you want to learn more deeply and fully about what Jesus taught, then you would enjoy He Called: 56 Daily Studies and Reflections with the Words of Christ. There are also 14 videos that go along with this book on this blog here: Teachings of Jesus videos
The author also posts on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GospelLifeBooks
Author's other books can be found at: https://www.amazon.com/Sherry-Elaine-Evans