According to Mark’s record, Jesus is already preaching a “gospel of God” at the very start of his public career. At some point not much later than the imprisonment of the Baptist and before his selection of the twelve, we find Jesus preaching, “The Reign of God is at hand; Repent, and believe the gospel” (Mk 1:14-15).
Here it is, a long time before the cross and tomb and resurrection, long before Pentecost, but Jesus is already preaching a message which qualifies as “good news.” Can this early “good news of God,” personally commended by Jesus of Nazareth shortly after his baptism resemble very closely the preaching about the crucified Messiah which was immediately proclaimed by Peter at Pentecost?
And what of the potential differences that might exist between the early message of Jesus and the later evangelical gospel of salvation, which follows (even surpasses) Paul in incorporating the whole redemptive work of crucifixion, resurrection, and Pentecost?
I want to look at the exegetical and/or theological apparatus developed in the church to reconcile these two gospels and ask, can they in fact be reconciled? The answer is important, I think, for the next theology.
In my view, The least helpful approach to Jesus is the one which apprehends his ‘reign of God’ in the manner portrayed by the Jewish eschatological writings which preceded his day, although their influence on his hearers and followers – and even on his precursor the Baptist – cannot be denied. But this assertion will need further elucidation.