I told you in my last post that I was itching to start talking about the gospel, but unfortunately, I've been stupid busy lately. They really should come up with like four or five words that grade out 'busyness' on a scale....one word just doesn't cut it!
Yeah, so anyway, my thoughts are a bit jumbled and I probably should wait, but I feel like if I don't write now, I probably won't or a couple of weeks.
What is the good news? I mean, as Christians, we have been charged by Christ to share the message of 'the gospel', but what exactly is that? I've been teaching some on this lately, and I'm coming to realize that we typically narrow the message to fit what we are comfortable with. I reckon that might be a bit unhealthy. So I thought that maybe we could spend some time together exploring what the Bible has to say about the gospel. I'm coming to see the gospel as a diamond, with many facets. We should be striving to appreciate all of them, live all of them, and teach all of them. Sadly, I think we stare into the ones that allow us to live the way we want, and pretend the others aren't there.
So I ask again, What is the good news? I think we will be well served by spending some time in the book of Luke. Luke 4:43
records Jesus saying that He was sent to 'speak the good news of the kingdom of God'.
I think this is essentially Luke's thesis statement. In the rest of the book, Luke is going to share things about who Jesus was and what he taught, and these things are going to reveal to the reader what the kingdom is, and what kingdom dwellers look like.
But let's take a step backwards from 4:43 to Luke 4:16fl
. Jesus goes to the synagogue and is asked to read. Now you have to remember that up til now, Jesus was nothing more than a young teacher as far as anyone else knew. He stands up and reads from Isaiah 61. Read below what He read. (emphasis is mine)
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captivesand recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."
After reading, Jesus sits down, looks at everyone, and says, 'Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.' He, of course, gets some shocked looks, so he goes on to relate two familiar stories to them from the OT. Familiar, but told in a way to draw attention to something that, I'm guessing, none of them had ever considered.
First Jesus talked about Elijah. There was a great famine in the land; a famine caused by Elijah's prayers to God. We can assume that there were many in Israel suffering because of the famine, but God didn't send Elijah to any of them. Instead He sent him to Sidon; a foreign country, to stay with a widow there and help her. Jesus then talked about the prophet Elisha. Again, we can assume there were many in Israel who suffered from leprosy, but Elisha didn't heal them. Instead he healed a general in the enemy's army!!
Now why would Jesus tell these two stories? I believe that He was pointing out that often God does not work the way that we expect Him to! In the first century, there was great expectation about the Messiah. He would be a great warrior king, who would throw off the shackles of the Romans, so that Israel could be ascendant again! They read into the passage in Isaiah, that God was talking about them and how he would lift up the nation.
But Jesus says, it's happening right now and you don't see it! You won't recognize it, because it doesn't fit what you've already decided the good news will be! Jesus walked out the door of the synagogue, and He fulfilled this prophecy. He started healing people, spending time with the poor, encouraging the outcasts from society.
Even John the Baptist was confused. In Luke 7:18fl
, John sends messengers to ask, 'Are you the Messiah? or should we be looking for someone else?' John knows
that Jesus is supposed to be the one! But Jesus isn't acting the way he's supposed to, and John wants him to get on with it!
Listen to Jesus' answer:
"Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."
He's doing it! He's bringing the good news of the kingdom, but it's not what people expected. Jesus tells John, 'I'm doing what I was sent to do, don't be offended that it doesn't fit what you had in mind!'
Are we any different today? We have our set ideas about what message we are supposed to be sharing with the world. But does our message match up with Jesus' message? Over the next few posts, I want to examine what Jesus said and did, to see what the gospel is all about. Maybe that can help us sort out what we are supposed to be sharing with the world.
One last thing... In my minds eye I see some stodgy, traditionalist reading this and saying, 'Hrumph! Where does he get off!? I KNOW the gospel!' Well, I pray you will bear with me and really listen to Jesus' words and actions. On the other hand, I see a young revolutionary saying, 'Right on, Ed! Give it to 'em! Tell the traditionalists that their time is over, we have no room for them in the 'post-modern church'! Please, slow down and listen to Jesus' teachings as well. As I said at the beginning, we so badly want Jesus to say what we want him to. Let's try to just look and see what he actually said and did.
love to you all!