The main character has been introduced, now the scene will be set and additional characters will be brought forward. The story is beginning to unfold with an immediacy that is peculiar to this Gospel.
Jesus preached a simple message, “The kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news.” What is the good news? That the kingdom of God is near?
Repent is the pivot point. To repent is to not only seek forgiveness for trespassing but to turn around and go a different way. It is as if Jesus is pointing towards the distant horizon and says “the kingdom of God is that way so turn around and go that way. Not only are you all heading the wrong way but you are trespassing on someone else’s lawn.” It just so happens that Jesus is also going that way and can show it to you. But you have to turn and follow him. Or at least turn to go the direction Jesus is pointing.
And some do, namely his first disciples. We are not sure why they followed him. All that we know is that Jesus called and they responded. This cast assembles around Jesus as support to his role as teacher, healer and guide towards the kingdom of God. And as they follow they see amazing things.
Jesus becomes the example of not only of the way to the kingdom but what a repentant heart looks like. A heart that is set on the Kingdom, which is near, is filled with compassion, which Jesus shows again and again. Jesus teaches with authority and heals.
On a Sabbath in a synagogue, Jesus encounters an evil spirit. This spirit knows Jesus identity. One would think that believers at church would recognize Jesus, but it is the evil spirit who does. Who, today, recognizes Jesus for who he truly is, believers or evil spirits? Encounters with the sick and evil spirits become a regular occurrence on the way towards the kingdom of God. His authority reassures the believers that Jesus knows what he is doing even if they do not yet know who Jesus is. They will find out in time the full cost of the way to the Kingdom of God. Jesus shows in word and action what it means to believe and follow.