By Mike Willis
Those who watch the nightly news on the various network and cable channels probably tire of hearing depressing news. The news coverage concentrates on bad news-a murder in some quiet town, a war in some remote part of the earth, an earthquake, flood, or tornado, bad signs in the economy, etc. The list could be continued through several pages. We tire of hearing bad news.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is “good news.” The word “gospel” comes from a word which means “good news.” The announcement of the arrival of the long-expected Messiah, of His mission to free men from the guilt and punishment of sin, and of the eternal home which He has prepared for us in heaven is good news. It has not always been welcomed.
Luke records the occasion when Jesus announced the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-3 in Nazareth. One Sabbath day, Jesus attended synagogue services, took the scroll of Isaiah, and read:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he bath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he bath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Lk. 4:18-19).
He closed the scroll and said, “This day is the scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Lk. 4:21). The Jews could not accept Jesus, whom they knew as the son of Joseph-an ordinary boy from their home town, as the long-awaited Messiah. Consequently, they led Jesus outside of Nazareth to kill Him by throwing Him off a cliff. He escaped them.
Despite the Jewish rejection of Jesus in Nazareth, we learn several things about the “good news” which characterizes the gospel. Let us consider these points.
The Good News Of The Gospel
1. The good news is announced to the poor. The gospel is available to every man, whether he be rich or poor. Those who might be economically rich, however, must be poor in spirit to receive its benefits. This refers to “an attitude of the soul toward God-the attitude that grows out of the profound realization of utter helplessness and beggary as far as any ability or possession of self are concerned. These wretched beggars bring absolutely nothing to God but their complete emptiness and need, and stoop in the dust for pure grace and mercy only” (R.C.H. Lenski, Interpretation of Luke, p. 250).
There is no good news to announce to those who are haughty and arrogant, who feel that they have need of nothing (cf. Rev. 3:17). The Lord has promised nothing to men of this disposition. But to those of a meek and contrite spirit, Jesus has good news to announce.
2. The Lord will heal the brokenhearted. The deliverance of the gospel is from sin; hence, all of the things which the gospel does for man relate to how sin has ravaged us. The gospel is an announcement of “healing” because sin might be compared to what a disease does to us. Sin has made us sick with a terminal illness. The Lord brings healing from the disease of sin. I need not face eternal death, the damnation of hell, because Jesus has brought healing.
The description of us as “brokenhearted” describes our inner disposition as a result of our sin. Many of us have sat at the hospital with those who have a relative with a terminal illness. They are brokenhearted because of the effect which the disease has wrought in the body of their friend and relative. You can imagine the reaction an announcement from the doctor would bring which told the one suffering from a terminal illness that a medicine had been found which could heal him immediately. Similarly, we who are brokenhearted over the effect of sin rejoice in the good news that Jesus can heal us from all our diseases of sin. By healing us from the disease of sin, Jesus also heals our broken heart. He brings us joy and happiness. This is the good news of the gospel.
3. The Lord preaches deliverance to the captives. The prophecy of Isaiah was written to those who faced Babylonian captivity. Deliverance from captivity could be understood easily by those who had been taken from their homes in Jerusalem into the foreign country of Babylon to serve as slaves. They desired deliverance.
The deliverance which the Messiah brought is deliverance from sin. However, we must understand that we have been servants of sin, in bondage to sin, and under the yoke of the Devil (cf. Jn. 8:34; Gal.3:22-23). Jesus releases us from the captivity of sin. He’ brings liberty and freedom to us. He announced, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32). There is deliverance from sin in the gospel. This is the good news of the gospel.
4. There is recovering of sight to those that are blind. Those who are in sin are in darkness. Preaching the gospel to those in sin is to “open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light” (Acts 26:18).
Those of us who have relatively good eyesight can only imagine what the world is like to those who cannot see. They live in a world of night. Blindness is more difficult to accept by those who once could see than by those born blind. To announce to a blind man that you can enable him to see would be to announce good news.
Jesus brings good news to the spiritually blind. The eyes of their heart can be enlightened; those who have lived in darkness can come to the light. This is the good news of the gospel.
5. The gospel sets at liberty them that are bruised. Sin’s effect on us is to bruise us. Sin wrecks and makes wretched the lives of those who participate in it; its consequences are devastating. To set at liberty those that are bruised is to release them from the effects of sin.
Many have been bruised by automobile accidents. Their mangled bodies reflect the tragic effects of the accident. Were a doctor to come in announcing a means of releasing such a person from the suffering of his bruised and mangled condition, all would rejoice. Jesus has done that for us. Those who have been bruised by sin are set at liberty released from the eternal consequences of the sin which they have committed. They walk away from their spiritual tragedy released from all of the suffering which it generally causes. This is the good news of the gospel.
We who take the gospel into the world are “gospel preachers.” We have a message of good news to announce. There is light for those who are in darkness; there is release for those in captivity; there is healing to those who are sick; there is release from suffering for those who are bruised.
The world is still suffering from the tragic effects of sin. The gospel message is still good news which will be gladly received by those who are poor in spirit. Let us hasten to take this wonderful message to them.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 3, pp. 66, 85
February 7, 1985