Sunday, December 07, 2014



TO CHEW ON: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God." Mark 1:1

Mark begins his writing with the bold claim that what will follow will be good news—"the gospel."

["Gospel - euangelion in ancient Greece meant the reward given for bringing good news. Later it came to mean the good news itself. In the NT the word includes both the promise of salvation and its fulfillment by the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ" - "Word Wealth," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1349.]

How is the story of Jesus good news? Is it still good news today? Four broad categories of how it is good news come to mind:

1. There is a remedy for sin
Out culture hardly acknowledges the existence or presence of sin. How can they when sin is missing the mark or target and they would not recognize such a target (objective standard of right and wrong)? But the existential angst we all feel before we meet Christ has its roots in the fact of our sinful nature and sinful deeds. It tells us everything is not okay.

However, Christ dealt with the sin problem. In our reading, John the Baptist's role was to call the people to repent (turn) from their sin (Mark 1:4). That's still the first step for us in dealing with sin, followed by trusting in Jesus' death for us. It takes care of our culpability before God:
"For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ" - 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT).

2. God gives us a new start
Jesus talking to Nicodemus called that new start being "born again" John 3:5-6. Here's how Ezekiel describes it:
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations" - Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT).

3. We have a purpose for living
Mark himself spells out that purpose as Jesus phrased it:
"And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole human race]' " - Mark 16:15 (AMP).

4. We have hope beyond death
This gospel is good news for life and beyond. Jesus' words again:
'Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am' " - John 14:1-3 (NLT).

Some of us have lived with this good news for so long it doesn't excite us any more. Let's put ourselves in the shoes of those who still haven't heard. Wouldn't we want to hear if these things were true of us?
"THE SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound" - Isaiah 61:1.

PRAYER: "Dear God, please help me to see the needs of those around me who have never heard or understood the Gospel. Give me Holy Spirit boldness to open my mouth and wield my pen (keyboard) to spread it. Amen. 

MORE: Second Sunday of Advent

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent.  Today's liturgy begins with the following Collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

This Christian Resource Institute article "The Season of Advent: Anticipation and Hope"by Dennis Bratcher explains Advent's long history and rich symbolism.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible,
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation
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Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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