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THE vote of no confidence

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near: repent and believe in the good news.”   Mark 1: 14-15 [c. AD 30, Galilee, Israel]


The vote of “no confidence” in Jersey’s Chief Minister last week was unsuccessful – decisively so. States Members together made the decision.


A week earlier in Jersey’s Senatorial by-election, a vote of “no confidence” was successful – decisively so with regard to certain candidates who received very few votes. Voters together made the decision.


Back in AD 30 in Galilee (see bold above) a “no confidence” decision was made about John the Baptist. He was arrested. King Herod alone made the decision.


When a “no confidence” label is attached to an individual it does not necessarily follow that the individual will believe it. Other folk will also make their own decision as to whether to have “no confidence” in the person or not.


In the case of King Herod and John the Baptist, it was clear to folk in Galilee that the “no confidence” decision about John was not motivated by justice but by Herod’s (latest) wife. She was a girl from Petra - being the daughter of the Nabatean King there - and she had just divorced herself from her husband, Herod’s brother. John had preached against it.


In fact John had a strong message for all folk in Israel at that time. He stated unequivocally that all people should repent (Greek metanoeo = change their mind) and publicly confess their sins of omission and commission by going down, for that reason, into the water of the Jordan River.


Amazingly, thousands of people did just that – they gave John a vote of confidence by changing their minds and by, in effect, physically stating (instead of denying) that they had really-and-truly messed-up.


But John is arrested, stopped in his tracks, imprisoned – by Herod’s wife who will not change her mind. She is “right.” John is “wrong.”


And along comes Jesus with the same message as John – but with additions. Jesus says three things.


1.     The time is fulfilled.” The long-awaited time has arrived. From 584 BC when Israel finally went under, when Jerusalem was destroyed and when virtually all the people went into exile in labour camps – they had been waiting for the promised “Messiah”, promised so many times but so long in coming.

2.     The kingdom of God has come near.” The realm/domain of the God of Israel (and of all the earth) is imminent.

3.     Repent (change your mind) and believe the good news.” John’s “change your mind” is repeated by Jesus. And he adds to it “believe the good news.”


 We know that King Herod’s wife didn’t change her mind because she procured that her daughter (from Herod’s brother) would request (from King Herod) John’s head on a platter as her special reward for “dirty dancing” at his birthday party. 


What does a real “change of mind” involve? The answer is terribly radical and terribly important. Starkly put it requires a vote of no confidence in oneself.


This was so clearly illustrated shortly after Jesus said the above words when a leper came to him and said to him, “If you will you can make me clean.” How so? Well, when he said that he was publically kneeling in front of Jesus and “imploring him”......


Without a real change of mind towards oneself, a real vote (conviction) of “no confidence” in oneself, there cannot be any receiving of the good news.

 ‘A sense of defilement before God is not morbid, neurotic or unhealthy in any way. It is natural, realistic, healthy and a true perception of our condition.’ (J I Packer)
‘They tell me I rub the fur the wrong way. I don’t. Let the cat turn round.’ (Billy Sunday, American athlete and preacher, 1862-1935)
Richard Syvret

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