I think people confuse the gospel OF Jesus with the good news ABOUT Jesus.
The gospel OF Jesus was that he was the long awaited Messiah and that his Kingdom was now and without end. Jesus had good news for the people and it was about the upheaval of poor and rich, slave and free. Jesus’ good news was about a new world and a new Kingdom that he was beginning.
But the good news ABOUT Jesus was that he died on the cross and ultimately took away our sins and sent us permanently free.
And here is what I think is so important. The gospel of Jesus Christ has to start in the Old Testament in order for it to make sense in the New. So many people want to reduce the gospel to simply “The Plan of Salvation.” But you see, the plan of Salvation is only good news if you know what it is you need to be saved from.
We’ve tried to make salvation simple, we want it to be user-friendly and feel good, and reduce it to a 3 minute altar call at the end of every sermon. I don’t do an altar call every week at our church because I think it’s more important to share the gospel – which is the life and the Lordship of Jesus Christ – no, I take that back – the Gospel is the preaching of the word of God – all of it, the Old and the New, the fun and the hard to swallow. The gospel is about the Kingdom life that God wants you to have available to you right now, and every day.
And the thing is, a plan of salvation is only a good plan if the people know why they need to be saved; and what it is that they are being saved from. Jesus did not ignore the law and the prophets – it was the only Bible that they had. In fact at the end of the book of Luke, Jesus recaps his ministry and he says,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you (in other words, this is my gospel) —that everything written about me in the Law from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.
The gospel is, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. He is the embodiment of God’s word. No longer was the Bible just words on a parchment, Jesus stood before them as a living breathing Torah.
You and I, we’re Christ’s disciples, and so I thought we should close with his words to those he taught. What would Jesus tell us about the gospel? What does he want us to do?
Jesus says in Luke 10:9 Heal the sick who are there, and tell them, ‘God’s kingdom has come upon you.’
Notice Jesus tells them that the gospel is an action – and it’ a proclamation. Jesus says “Heal your world” and then tell them, “This thing that I do, it’s evidence that God’s Kingdom is here and it’s real.”
Heal the sick – which would be a demonstration of God’s power, and his love, and his grace, and his mercy and then…tell the story of Jesus.
And I think that’s a good order to do it in. Why? Well, because it’s hard to tell a someone that Jesus is the bread of life when they are starving. Jesus says, “demonstrate my love and then tell my story.”
The gospel is a message, but it’s also a demonstration. And do you know why I think the demonstration is just as important as the message? Because without the demonstration…. the message sounds flat and it falls short.
If we say, “love your enemies” but we don’t….
If we say, “feed the poor” but we don’t…
If we say, “forgive those who sin against you…” but we don’t….
Who is going to listen to us? Who is going to be convinced by our witness?
Jesus says, “demonstrate and announce the gospel.” After all, that’s how he did it. Jesus tells John’s disciples.
Those who were blind are able to see. Those who were crippled now walk. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. (those are all demonstrations of the Kingdom) And good news is preached to the poor.
Notice how much more the gospel is a movement, and an action and a motion than it is just a message. Yes, Jesus was the King, the good news was that He was the long awaited Messiah and that he brought with him a Kingdom that would abolish every other corrupt man made system for all time – but Jesus didn’t just come with words – He came with deeds. He proved He was the King, He proved he had power. He proved He was sent by God.
And I would sum up the gospel of Jesus like this: “The Kingdom of God is available to everyone and it can start today.” When Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God, he doesn’t mean something that happens after you die. You don’t have to wait. When Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God, he means the reign and supremacy of God – now, today in our own world.
We pray “Your Kingdom come, (where) on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
The Kingdom of God is life how God has always intended it to be. Unchained, no debts, freedom, sharing, equality, helping, love, healing, mercy, grace.
We enter into the Kingdom of God when we enter into a relationship with the King; and the good news was Jesus was the King they had all been waiting for.