Tag Archives: What is the gospel?

“According to the Scriptures”: What does that mean?

I know that means going out of order, which will drive some of you to distraction, but the inclusion of the burial here powerfully illustrates a truth we looked at several weeks ago, so going there first will serve as a brief review before we move on. Besides that, the line about Jesus’s burial frequently gets skipped over altogether. But Paul included it, as did each of the Gospel writers and, what’s more, Paul even mentioned it his evangelistic preaching,

But why? What is there to say? He was buried. Stuck in a hole in the ground. There is not a lot of color commentary to go along with that. When preachers go to their illustration files for something to highlight the burial, they usually come up empty-handed.

In the recent past, historically speaking, some preachers and apologists have focused on the empty tomb as proof that Jesus rose from the dead. Those who deny Jesus’s resurrection, they say, need to explain the empty tomb. And people have tried. Some suggest that the women, confused and overcome by grief, simply went to the wrong tomb. When they didn’t find Jesus’s body, they recalled something he had said and jumped to the conclusion he had been resurrected.

There are all kinds of problems with that theory, starting with the chauvinistic assumption that women are overly emotional and directionally challenged. But even if these women were…
Continue reading

Posted in Bible, Sermons, Theology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Finally, Some Good News … God Reigns!

We are in a series on the gospel titled Finally, Some Good News. Such series frequently begin in the New Testament, as if Jesus and the Evangelists had invented the word “gospel.” They didn’t. They discovered it in the Old Testament, and what they found there shaped their proclamation.

When Jesus burst onto the scene with the good news – the gospel – that the kingdom of God was at hand, his fellow-Jews knew what he was talking about. They had learned about it in synagogue when Isaiah was read, particularly chapter 52. When they heard Jesus urging them to believe the gospel (the good news), it was Isaiah’s gospel that was in mind.

Isaiah 52 begins with God shouting, “Awake, awake!” An observant reader will know that God is echoing words addressed to him a few verses earlier, when someone told him to wake up: “Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the LORD” (Isaiah 51:9). (In the vernacular: “Wake up, God! Roll up your sleeves and get to work.”) But in chapter 52, God answers: “I’m not asleep. You’re the ones who need to wake up. I’ve got good news for you.”

That good news came at a time when a mountain of bad news had piled up around the Jewish people. They had just come through a long and ruinous war. Death was everywhere. The land had been pulverized; the capitol city devastated. Israel’s temple – the sanctuary of their God – had been razed, which indicated to ancient people that the god of that temple had been defeated. The population had been systematically and forcibly deported to a foreign country.

Now fast-forward hundreds of years to Jesus’s announcement of the arrival of Isaiah’s good news (Mark 1:14-15). The Jewish people were once again standing in the shadow of a mountain of bad news. The government had been deposed, the army disbanded, and foreign soldiers patrolled the streets. Taxes were impoverishing people. The foreigners were even meddling in their worship, appointing, and removing high priests at will, corrupting their most sacred institution.

Today, we stand in the shadow of our own mountain of bad news. A pandemic is killing us. Politics is polarizing us. Churches around the country are closed and many will never reopen. Domestic violence is surging. Opioid addiction is devastating. Unemployment is high, the stock market is volatile, and the potential for election violence is looming.
But on this mountain of bad news, a voice is announcing good news – the same news Isaiah and Jesus proclaimed. I think it’s time we had some good news.
Continue reading

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Sermons, Theology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment