So what is the Good News that Jesus himself proclaimed?
When that question was first posed to me, I had been a pastor for many years. I had been through seminary and then some. I was a “licensed minister of the gospel,” and if you are licensed in something, you should understand it. Yet I had never thought about Jesus preaching a gospel. I had thought of the gospel as something that got invented after he died.
But Jesus did have a gospel. The New Testament writers are very clear about it. And if Jesus thought something was the biggest news in history, it is unthinkable that people who follow him don’t know it.
Mark summarizes Jesus’ gospel carefully at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry: “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news [gospel] of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:14-15).
After choosing his disciples, Jesus “called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:1-2).
After Jesus rose from the dead, “he appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
And in the last glimpse we have of the early church in the book of Acts, Paul “boldly and without hindrance . . . preached the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:31).
Jesus’ good news—his gospel—is simply this: the Kingdom of God has now, through Jesus, become available for ordinary human beings to live in.
It’s here. Now. You can live in it if you want to.
John Ortberg, Eternity Is Now in Session: A Radical Rediscovery of What Jesus Really Taught about Salvation, Eternity, and Getting to the Good Place (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2018).
I have just completed a series of lessons on the theme of Eternity Is Now In Session. They are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service. For a medium-sized church, lesson subscriptions are only $10 per teacher per year.