And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”  - Mark 1:38

What do our minds usually latch onto about Jesus’ ministry? Isn't it the healings, the miracles, the casting out of demons, the clear power he wields? No one can do the things Jesus does. That’s what sets him apart, and shows He is the Son of God. But when you get a chance to hear Jesus speak in the first chapter of Mark, he doesn’t point to those things. What does he point to? The proclamation! My goodness, don’t miss that.  

Mark’s already told us this, in fact. In Mark 1:14-15; Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.” 

Jesus is telling the disciples that this is why he came out, to preach. Now that’s a little bit of an unclear sentence. 'Came out' from where? This is why he came out this morning to pray? This is why he came out of Caperneum? Of course, there’s also a third option here- this is why he came down from heaven, and Luke tells us that’s the right one. The other two may be true as well. Jesus wasn’t going to stay in Caperneum, he did leave so they could go elsewhere, but Luke tells us in Luke 4:43, that “he said to them, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 

So like I said, don’t miss this. This is, I think, where so many people do in fact miss it. They get fascinated with healing, they get fascinated with demons, they get fascinated and think, now there’s real power. Power over sickness, power over the spiritual realms. There’s a whole revival in our culture with being fascinated over the supernatural. But Mark’s point here is amazing. Jesus, the one who has the power to hold the universe together, and is doing it right now, doesn’t point to healing, doesn’t point to demons, that’s not where the power is at. He points to the proclamation, the preaching, the message. Repent and believe. 

If you could heal someone from sickness, that’s a good thing. No doubt about it! Remember, Jesus always heals when the opportunity arises, but healing is not the focus of his ministry. The healing, whether Jesus or the apostles are doing it, has a purpose- it strengthens the message. That person will still die. Here's the difference- if you proclaim this message, then perhaps that person will never die. There’s real power. 

It is the preaching of the Gospel that has changed the world. It is the proclamation of the Gospel that has grown the church, always. The church is at its strongest when two things are happening. The leaders of the church are faithfully proclaiming this message to the people under their care. They are stewards of the Gospel that was entrusted to them, and do not change it, do not soften or harden it. They don’t add a word to it, but simply preach that God will give grace and mercy to anyone who comes to him through faith in Jesus Christ, and there is no other way. Week in and week out, they remind the people that this message is the center of their world. They do it from the pulpit and they also do it throughout the week, as they see and talk with their people. The second thing that is happening when the church is at its strongest is that the people who hear those sermons are taking that message with them out into the world. 

They are risking ridicule, mockery, persecution, or death to proclaim this message. They are eagerly seeking God above all, they are rearranging their lives to model Christ, living in fellowship with God. They are centering their family lives around this message, their work lives are guided by this message. Someone came and proclaimed this message to them, and now they understand, they feel it like a fire in their bones, as Jeremiah the prophet said, that they must go out with that life giving message. Paul explains it in Romans 10:14. 

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

We’ve got to look beyond healing services, look beyond a fascination with ghosts, spirits, the demonic. What really matters? God. Salvation. Fellowship with the Creator of everything. And that comes only through hearing this message. Churches have been replacing the preaching of the word with self-help guides, with motivational talks, with conversations about community. But what we need is new life, a new heart, and to see the world with totally new eyes. Eyes that aren’t clouded by our selfish desires. Eyes that truly see a holy God, maker of Heaven and Earth. 

My friends who go out and proclaim in the streets, at sporting events, or outside abortion centers often get their ministry downplayed by other Christians. They’re told it’s not effective anymore. Maybe back when George Whitefield was alive that worked, but not anymore. People have changed though, and so our methods must change. That’s simply not true. People are the same as they were in Ephesus when Paul started an angry riot by preaching repentance. More than physical healing, more than amazing supernatural miracles, we need repentance. 

J.C. Ryle points this out- 

"Let us never be moved by those who cry down the preacher's office, and tell us that sacraments and other ordnances are of more importance than sermons. Let us give to every part of God's public worship its proper place and honour, but let us beware of placing any part of it above preaching. By preaching, the Church of Christ was first gathered together and founded, and by preaching, it has ever been maintained in health and prosperity. By preaching, sinners are awakened. By preaching, inquirers are led on. By preaching, saints are built up. By preaching, Christianity is being carried to the heathen world.- There are many now who sneer at missionaries, and mock at those who go out into the highways of our own land, to preach to crowds in the open air. But such persons would do well to pause, and consider calmly what they are doing. The very work which they ridicule is the work which turned the world upside down, and cast heathenism to the ground. Above all, it is the very work which Christ Himself undertook. The King of kings and Lord of lords Himself was once a preacher. For three long years He went to and fro proclaiming the Gospel. Sometimes we see Him in a house, somtimes on the mountain side, sometimes in a Jewish synagogue, sometimes in a boat on the sea. But the great work He took up was always one and the same. He came always preaching and teaching."

So if we are going to be faithful Christians, we must be proclaimers. Ask yourself, where would you start? What would be the first things you would say? What would you say next? How would you show love while telling truth? 

Keep it on the tip of your tongue though, that one central message. Repent, and believe.