Why the Story of Jesus Is Such Amazingly Good News
First of all, let’s be honest, the message called the “Good News” is not good news to many. Some people hold an antipathy toward the very idea of God. Others, who have been hurt or disappointed by the church, want nothing to do with anything “Christian.” Still others are doing pretty well in life, quite independently from God (they think). They have everything they want, are satisfied, and do not want to “upset the apple cart,” especially by introducing anything that might interfere with their “fun.” But there is another group for whom the Gospel is beyond wonderfully amazing good news. These are people who are what Jesus called “poor in spirit” and who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” These are the ones who know deep down that there is something terribly wrong in the world and their lives. They long for a savior. They know they need help.
If we believe the Bible story, God created this world to be a perfect place for the first inhabitants. Their sin (their willful rejection of God and being dependent upon him) brought death, destruction, and a disruption of the created order. Confusion, chaos, and condemnation entered the once perfect world, bringing with it heartache, guilt, loss, and loneliness. Man’s relationship with God, which had been uninhibited, was now broken. Instead of enjoying the world, people were burdened by all sorts of negative emotions and experiences. The world itself became difficult to negotiate, being under God’s judgment of sin. Imagine the heartache that followed Cain’s murder of Abel! Things degenerated very quickly.
By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, thousands of years had passed since the Fall and evil had multiplied and impacted every family and individual in horrendous ways. The Jews, the people God had selected to be custodians of the Scripture, the promises, and the Messianic line, were then under Rome’s oppressive rule. Many in the nation knew that God had promised to send a Messiah and were caught up in the excitement that the time could be near. Indeed, as it turns out, Jesus was that Messiah, but he did not arrive in a spectacular way, live as a special person, or fulfill their expectations of Messianic behavior. Jesus described his ministry like this.
…the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. Matthew 11:5 (NLT)
Jesus came after what he called “the least of these my brethren” – the outcasts, the forgotten, the marginalized, the oppressed, the poor, the humble. He was not a politician nor a military leader. He was not a stuffy religious leader or a proud demagogue. As a result he did not attract many from those spheres of life. However, he easily mixed with those whose hearts were open to his message – those who knew they needed God’s help. He redemptively loved people despite their sins and obvious failings. He gathered common men and women into his band of disciples, and eventually he laid down his life for them. Later the Apostle Peter summed up Jesus’ ministry as follows.
And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38 (NLT)
He died, as the Scriptures predicted, as the Lamb of God who took upon himself the sins of the world. He took our condemnation and punishment so that those who believe can be set free of those things. He suffered abandonment by his heavenly Father for our sake, so that you and I will never have to know what it feels like to be alone in the universe again! He rose from the dead as the triumphant Lord of Lords, having defeated the power of Satan, sin, death, sickness, and everything that formerly held us captive. He welcomed us into his family! He sent his Holy Spirit to live inside us and through us, enabling his people to be like him in thought, words, and actions. He enlisted us into his missionary army and commissioned us to join him in his worldwide venture of bringing this Good News to whomever will listen and receive it.
Jesus takes helpless, hopeless people and transforms them into radiant followers whose hope is to be with God forever, ruling and reigning over a new creation. Because he lives, so do we. Because he is victorious, so are we. This is very Good News!
Hopefully you already have received him as your Lord and Savior, or, if not, something is stirring in your heart right now, and you want that. If the latter is the case, you may wish to pray something like the following, but don’t do it unless you mean it. This prayer only “works” if you are honest.
Jesus, I want to experience what you died to give to me. I admit that I have tried to live independently from you. I did not want you to be in charge of my life. Please forgive me. I now understand that I cannot go it alone. Thank you, Jesus, for dying in my place and taking my punishment upon yourself. I receive forgiveness for my sins. Thank you for setting me free from guilt and condemnation and from everything that has previously made my life miserable. I give myself to you. Thank you for coming to live inside me. Holy Spirit, I welcome you. Change me to be like Jesus and help me to tell others about this wonderful Good News. Amen.
If you just prayed, one of the most important things you can do next is tell someone. Don’t keep it a secret. If you are not part of a church that preaches the Gospel, ask the Holy Spirit to show you one and join it. Grow in your knowledge of and obedience to Jesus’ teachings in the Bible. The truth will set you free. (John 8:31) You will grow most quickly if you read and think about the Scriptures on a regular basis. Try to follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings every day. And don’t forget to set aside time to pray.Follow us on Facebook.