- Religion and Philosophy
The Gospel, Today's Good News
"He has Risen!"
"You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here."
- Mark 16:6
The tomb was believed to contain a body. And, having a body inside, the tomb would be expected to have a heavy, somewhat circular stone blocking its entrance. These were the things that were on the minds of three woman who were on their way toward the location of the tomb. They wanted to anoint the body with some spices they had bought, and they were wondering, probably out loud, if they would be able to move aside the stone in front. As they neared, they were surprised to see the stone had already been moved. When they entered the tomb, they were quite a bit more than surprised that instead of containing the body of the one they were looking for, there was a young man there, who was wearing a white robe. He was seated and he spoke to them. He told them that the person whose body they wished to anoint was not there; he had risen. He also told them not to be alarmed, but they fled, afraid.
We read of these events on the final pages of the gospel of Mark. The three woman were Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James, and the person they were looking for was Jesus of Nazareth.
The young man had said to the women, "He is not here." He was not in the tomb. So where was he?
Jesus was not among the souls of those who had passed; He was there among the living. He was there as an energy and a presence. He was there and He is here, his presence and energy not one bit diminished.
Mark tells us at the beginning of his gospel that it is the beginning of the good news. But in a way it is also a continuation of the good news of God's love for us and the world, a love that has existed from the beginning of time. This is the kind of news that can turn fear into joy.
Mark's gospel tells us about Jesus, how He healed the sick, and how forgave people of their sins. Mark had heard about these things and felt the spirit that they carried. This spirit was there before Mark began to write his gospel, and it was there after he was finished. And it continued to be there. And it continues to be here. The good news is Jesus Christ. The good news is the presence of Christ now and forever.
The good news is also Mark's gospel itself. It is not a mere history, nor a biography. It is a gospel. It is good news. It contains written words that describe the forgiving, healing and miraculous ways of Jesus. This good news has risen as well, risen from the confines of those written pages to become a living presence in the world - a power and a light, an energy that, like Jesus Christ, is always present, always active, and always available.
"Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction." - 2 Thessalonians 1:5
"For the word of God is living and active." - Hebrews 4:12
Mark and others heard the message of the good news and experienced its power, while the disciples of Jesus were busy baptizing, forgiving sins, and healing in His name, and while the apostle Paul and others were teaching the good news of grace and salvation from God, through His resurrection.
And so the story that begins with the words, "The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God." (Mark 1:1), did not and does not end. It is, as he says, only the beginning.
The good news is the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives, and the message of that presence. The good news is God's grace and God's love. The good news is the presence of that love. This presence is here; it is now. And it is forever.
Good News Now
" I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation."
- 2 Corinthians 6:2
God's favor is grace and love. God's favor is the living and active Holy Spirit, the Spirit that surrounds us, the Spirit that dwells within us, inspiring us, inspiring us to live our lives with compassion and charity. Grace is beauty and elegance, and our actions of beauty and elegance. Grace is also the gift of empowerment, empowering us to live in forgiving and healing ways, with compassion and kindness, loving and caring.
Salvation is the gift that allows us to repent and have our sins forgiven; we return to our sinless natures, sharing in the sinless nature of the Spirit. Salvation is the healing we feel when we abide in the Spirit. Salvation is also God's comforting, calming our fears and doubts, dissolving anger and hate, bringing a little peace and joy into our lives, perhaps even a great deal of peace and joy.
With God's favor and salvation we are refreshed and renewed. We become free. We obtain the freedom to move about this beautiful and elegant world, making peace and joy our goal - not some far off goal, but a moment to moment goal, remembering that the gospel's good news is today's good news.
Delivered daily, the good news is now.
Good News Always
"And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age."
- Matt. 28:20
On the final pages of the gospel of Matthew, the risen Christ assures his disciples, and us, that He as well as the good news, is always near, always with us. Each day when we rise, we may be provided with news of a different sort. The apparent sorry state of worldly affairs may lead us to believe that the end of the age is indeed close at hand. We read of conflict and war, natural disasters, and acts of terror, hateful people doing hateful things. And so it has been for many ages past, including those times when Paul was writing his letters, when Matthew and Mark were writing their gospels, and when Jesus was walking the earth, teaching and healing.
But these earthly maladies lose their power in the presence of God's light and love, and when we live in this light, we have the power to rise above these things and to create better worlds, to truly change things. This is good news, very good news. So we return to the written word to remind ourselves that the good news is here and now, and that it continues.
And we rejoice:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 4:4
Today's good news is everyday's good news. We accept the gifts of grace and love, of God's favor and salvation. We accept these gifts and pass them on. We humbly accept the blessings and kindness of others, and we are forever thankful.
The good news is that the peace of God is here and now, at every moment of every day, always and without end.
All Bible verses are from the New International Version.
Take this poll if you care to, and feel free to leave a comment below.
Do you believe that the gospel - the good news, is more than just the written words?
© 2012 Paul K Francis