Bible Reading: Genesis 3:1-24
When you tell three people the same thing and they have different reactions, it’s not so much based on whether or not they believe what they’ve been told. I think it has a big deal to do with the story upon which the statement stands- what the statement lands on.
Imagine you get to announce to three different people that each of them just won a NGN 20,000 bonus:
One of them is super excitedly freaked out and calling every family member, because just a few moments earlier, she was helplessly thinking she might have to defer her admission because she hadn’t been able to raise an NGN 18 000 acceptance fee that she needed to pay for it.
A second is kind of happy, but nothing that excited. He gets a monthly pay of NGN 200,000 and as much as he’s grateful for this bonus, it’s nothing that serious.
The third person though, is sad! Yesterday, she visited some babalawo and cried to him that she wants to be a millionaire desperately. He made her pay NGN 30,000 for some sacrifices and promised her that in 12 hours, she’ll get a call that will change her life forever. This call though, doesn’t even refund her the cost of the sacrifices. So she’s disappointed and angry.
Think about it- three different reactions to the same news, based on the story into which the statement landed.
It’s one thing to know the ‘Good News’ that the gospel is. But we can end up being that disappointed and sad Babalawo visitor, if we don’t receive the gospel in the light of the story that sets it up.
Yesterday, we learnt that the gospel is the good news that the incarnate and crucified Saviour, Jesus Christ, is the risen Lord and impending judge of the world.
But what’s the story behind that statement?
The story behind the gospel starts from creation. God made the world good. God designed the world to function in His good purpose. God’s design for man and the created universe was perfect. We read today about how sin came in and, through sin, came death. Man then began a cycle of struggling and empty vanity- fear, miserable work, relationship disorders, environmental disorders, and so on.
The story goes on to the helplessness of man to set things right. In his best effort, man is a sinner and can’t work his way out of the bondage of death and eternal destruction and all its consequences.
If we don’t understand this story, we will never value the gospel statement.
It is right into this context that the gospel comes in: the good news that the incarnate and crucified Saviour, Jesus Christ, is the risen Lord and impending judge of the world.
The story puts perspective to each of the elements we identified and as to why it is good news:
It is good news;
because humanity is living in the bondage and oppression of death. It is the power of the gospel that sets us free. The gospel is not a cool alternative to a life of sin and death, the gospel is the only way to life. The gospel does not condemn people to death, it saves people from death. We were already suya before the gospel.
It is about Jesus
The gospel is not based on man’s performance to reach God, it is based on God’s willingness to reach man in the person of Jesus. The gospel is not an honour-sharing programme between the grace of Jesus and the intensive strategic efforts of man. The gospel points us entirely to Jesus. When you remember the helplessness of man through every generation, you realize this statement is good news in the context of the story.
…the gospel of God… concerning His Son Jesus Christ… Romans 1:1-3 NKJV
It recognizes that He was born as a man
This is key in the story of the gospel because it took a man to deliver men from their sins. It took a man to pay the price of fallen men. It was the seed of the woman that was prophesied to crush the head of the serpent, not the seed of angels. The gospel stands on the affirmation that Jesus came as a man.
It is the Good News about his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who came as a human baby, born into King David’s royal family line. Romans 1:3 TLB
This is good news in the context of the story.
It recognizes that He was crucified
Without blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. The gospel is a bold affirmation that the innocent Jesus was killed in the stead of all humanity. The gospel is not just saying that Jesus was a good man or a miracle worker. It is saying that He was actually crucified, for it took his death to change the narrative of humanity.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7 NKJV
Again, this is good news in the context of the story
It recognizes that He was raised from the dead
Many had died before Jesus and may died after Him, but the gospel is based on the affirmation that Jesus was raised from the dead. This is what we believe and confess. We don’t rejoice in Lazarus being raised from the dead, because the story behind the statements differ. Jesus went to die on our behalf and with us in Him, to pay the price of our sin and separation. His resurrection is our resurrection!
Sharing in his death by our baptism means that we were co-buried and entombed with him, so that when the Father’s glory raised Christ from the dead, we were also raised with him. We have been co-resurrected with him so that we could be empowered to walk in the freshness of new life. For since we are permanently grafted into him to experience a death like his, then we are permanently grafted into him to experience a resurrection like his and the new life that it imparts. Romans 6:4-5 TPT
This is good news!
It recognizes His Lordship
I think this is often overlooked as an element of the gospel. We many times approach Jesus as Savior, but not as Lord. That is a compromised picture of the gospel! The Lordship of Jesus is good news! Just look around during elections in our country and see the passion and intensity that surrounds people’s choice of leadership. When results are announced, there is rejoicing and sometimes sadness, based on the quality of leadership that has been elected. The gospel is a dethroning of self and Satan over a life and the enthroning of a good and loving Lord. This is good news! We must recognize that authority. The story upon which this statement lands is that humanity has been a lord to itself and under the authority of Satan. This is as bad as it gets. Believing the gospel is not just believing our sins are forgiven, it is believing and accepting that Jesus is now our Lord. We owe Him surrender and absolute submission. The gospel places us under a new authority.
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11MEV
It recognizes Jesus in His authority by which He will judge the world
The preaching of the gospel recognizes that Jesus is the soon coming King and the impending judge of the world. When we believe the gospel, we believe that one day, Jesus will return and He will judge all people for what they believed and for what they did. This is good news!
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. 2 Timothy 4:1 NKJV
Did you ever have situations growing up when your parents asked you to get a task done and you had poured yourself faithfully into doing it while your sibling was just playing around and not doing his? If your parents were never going to come back, what’s the point to your faithfulness? When you hear your parents opening the gate, there is the joy of impending judgment!
Judgment isn’t about some fiery sober moments, judgment is about revealings and rewards and joy and celebrations. The gospel is good news to the faithful. It is good news that the world systems are not the ultimate judge. It is good news that all our faithfulness in the known and unknown will be worth it. It is good news that ultimately, Our Jesus is Saviour, Lord and Judge.