Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Mark 1:14–15, where the Bible says,   

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”



 In a Charlie Brown cartoon, little brother Linus is looking very forlorn. He asks big sister Lucy, “Why are you always so anxious to criticize me?” Lucy, looking very self-righteous, replies, “I just think I have a knack for seeing other people’s faults.” Linus turns indignant. “What about your own faults?” he asks. “I have a knack for overlooking them,” says Lucy.

I think Lucy’s attitude is an endemic condition of the sinful human heart. What do you think? Be honest now. It is so easy to see the faults and sins of others, while virtually ignoring the enormous brokenness within ourselves. Human beings tend to judge themselves by their intentions, while judging others by their actions. We have a natural tendency to learn to live with our pet sins, while becoming extremely irritated and put off by the sins and weaknesses of others. Sin ravages our relationship with God, it devastates our relationships with others, and it destroys a healthy sense of ourselves. The Bible is clear, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). No cryogenic freezing, no DNA tinkering, and no long-term health program is going to reverse what starts in our rebellious hearts. 

Now is the time to realize the sobering news that God can’t and won’t overlook our sin. He’s holy; He cannot abide with sin. But He loves us and doesn’t wish for us to be ravaged eternally by our sin. Now is also the time to hear the even better news that God, out of love, has done something about our sinful, human condition. The good news is that, while “the wages of sin is death, …the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The Gospel of Mark gets right to the point, doesn’t it? Of course, Jesus had to be born. But Mark doesn’t spend time retelling the birth of Jesus. Mark doesn’t even take time to talk about the early years of Jesus’ life. What matters in his account is the public ministry of this Jesus. What matters is that He has come to deal with the universal problem of the fallen human race. He has come to deal with our sin and the impending judgment of God. He has come to save.

That’s why the message of today’s reading remains as simple and multifaceted as, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Don’t be a “Lucy” who misses out on the good news of Jesus because you’re too busy telling yourself that you are just fine the way you are. On the other hand, don’t miss out on the good news because you think that you are too much of a lost cause for Jesus either. Jesus came for you, sins and all, to give you His gracious gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation. The question isn’t whether you are too terrible a sinner for His grace. The question is, “Is His grace powerful and all-encompassing enough to include you?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

Sometimes we look in all the wrong places for healing from our brokenness. We look to self-help gurus, to smooth talking politicians, and even to athletic or societal “heroes.” Ironically, even as believers, we tend to underestimate what Christ has done and can do for us. I’m sure those first disciples had a hard time thinking that Jesus could do anything and everything, especially the really big things. I know that they would see Him still the storm, feed the hungry, and heal those with diseases. I know that they would see glimpses of His greatness. But then they would also see Jesus tired, hungry, and worn out on occasions. Eventually, they would even be confronted with Jesus willingly hanging on a cross, giving up His life for us. Little did they understand that the person dead on a cross was the almighty and eternal Son of God. But they would soon realize that Jesus of Nazareth, risen from the dead, was indeed the eternal Word of God who created the heavens and the earth, and who become flesh for us and for our salvation (see John 1:1-3, 14).

Jesus Himself calls you this very day to “repent and believe the good news!” Repent means “to turn around from the direction you are going.” Turn from living life on your terms, on those “Lucy” terms. Instead, be honest with yourself and open your eyes to this messiah named Jesus. Now is the time to believe in HIS good news for you, to put your trust for now and forever in the one who has come all the way from heaven to earth to be your Lord and Savior.  

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, let Your simple invitation to repent and believe in You move us to confident trust in You for our very lives, today and always! AMEN.

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