The gospels are incredible pieces of literature. They take us back in time to when Jesus, the son of God, walked on the earth. They tell us amazing stories of what Jesus did culminating in his journey to the cross and eternity shaking resurrection. We also get sections of his teaching recorded. Some of in it in intimate rooms with his trusted friends and disciples, some of it shared with thousands on a mountain or bellowed to those gathered by the shorelines from a boat.
They are fast paced eye witness accounts with lots of content. How would you summarise the gospel?
If I were to ask you to summarise the message Jesus shared whilst on earth what would you say?
The ability to summarise a book or a speakers message succinctly and accurately is a great skill. It often reveals the depth of our understanding as well as our ability to communicate well. The process teaches us and causes us to dig deeper.
In summarising the message of Jesus many would reach for the L word. Love. Jesus taught us to love one another right? That was his main message, right? Love our neighbours (not just the ones we like), love our enemies, love those who do bad things to us and love God.
In church recently we have been preaching through Mark’s gospel. It was in preparing a message for Mark that the core of Jesus’s message became apparent to me.
Mark 1:15 ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’
In this verse one commentator went as far as to say we have here ‘the gospel in a nutshell’. The core of Jesus’s message. That core was centred on the idea of a new Kingdom imminently and currently arriving with Jesus.
This Kingdom was not based on locality but authority. Not political or geographic. It was revealed by the presence and power of God. Where God showed up, there was his new Kingdom.
Jesus tells us that this new Kingdom and its nearness should cause in us a reaction. A call to change the way we view reality and rest our belief upon Jesus, the messenger and the message.
This was not just a part of his message this was the best summary we have of what he came to say and do. Reveal a new Kingdom and show what a life of allegiance to this new King looked like. Everything he did comes back to this kernel of truth. Healing, teaching on love and forgiveness, resurrection, freeing the demonised and the cross itself.
If when we share the gospel, the good news, it does not contain elements of this short summary we may be missing something of the bigger picture Jesus shared with us.
Salvation is an invitation to enter his Kingdom. Healing is a revelation of what the King is like. Casting out demons was a demonstration that this Kingdom was one of power and freedom. Love would be the ultimate expression of the King and his Kingdom. Once we get this high level view we can step in to discover the details of how we “repent and believe”.
The Kingdom is the gospel and the gospel is all about the Kingdom.
God, let your kingdom come.
You can listen to the full message I shared on this passage here.