GOING PUBLIC WITH JESUS
In our day and age of never-ending news and updates, with so many news shows and channels, websites, and social media accounts that need the churn of constant content, press conferences have become commonplace. If you have a big announcement you think people will care about, you invite the reporters and the photographers to attend, you let them ask some questions and take some pictures, and you try to get that media spotlight to shine on you for a little bit. You never know if something you say might go viral or make some kind of mark.
Now, unfortunately, not all press conferences announce something important. Press conferences can introduce a new product being sold, comment on a celebrity’s newest movie, give a politician’s particular slant on an issue, or inform us about important issues that can make a real difference in our life. We are so inundated with media events that try to get us to pay attention to even the most trivial of things, however, that we can miss the value of important press conferences. It is easy to tune out almost everything when we are bombarded with almost everything.
When Jesus begins his public ministry, he holds a press conference of sorts. He has vital information to share on who he is and why he is here, and he begins to make formal announcements in public about his message and mission. As Mark 1:14–15 tells us, “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.’” We must be careful not to relegate this message to one more piece of information, one more announcement that has little or nothing to do with us.
Notice the differences between how Jesus announces his news compared to how announcements are typically made today. Jesus doesn’t hold court in the most conspicuous place possible, or even in the biggest city. He wants to identify with all people, and he wants all people to identify with him. So he especially works to connect with those who others looked down upon, those considered insignificant. He doesn’t announce his ministry from Jerusalem, the big city and center of Israel, but instead makes his public premiere in Galilee, whose people were usually considered second-class citizens by the powerful living and working in Jerusalem.
Jesus also breaks another rule of public relations. Instead of waiting for a time of triumph to announce himself, Jesus proclaims his message right after John the Baptist was arrested, when it seemed as if this “repent because the kingdom of heaven is coming and Jesus will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” movement had stalled or even begun to fade. Jesus wants us to know that believing in him and following him might take place during times of adversity and suffering, and not always in ease and comfort. Jesus is for all of us, even the struggling, the hurt, and the weak.
When we consider this place and these circumstances, we should begin to realize how Jesus’ kingdom isn’t of this world. His call to repent and believe isn’t an attempt to control us or deny us life, but to offer us the life we were created to experience. Jesus makes his pronouncement after he is baptized and proclaimed to be the beloved Son of God by God the Father. He makes his announcement after he stands face to face with Satan and successfully gains victory over all the powers that oppose God. Life in his kingdom is love; life in his kingdom is victory.
We must believe in Jesus in order to receive salvation. We must repent, or turn from other ways of living, and start trusting Jesus. Belief and repentance are summed up in Jesus’ subsequent call to his disciples when he invites them to “follow me.” (Mark 1:17). When we follow Jesus, it changes everything. Don’t let his message, his summons, bounce off you like just another press conference. Have you decided to follow Jesus? Have you gone public with him, as he has gone public with you?