“Good-News” Means Proclaiming That God Is Near

Written by Joel on December 8th, 2011

December 4, 2011
Second Sunday of Advent
Mark 1:1-8 “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah.” Yes, the beginning is a very good place to start, especially in Advent, and Mark just dives right in there: “The Good News about Jesus Christ, Son of God.” But this isn’t the familiar beginning of the story we remember is it? Where are the wise men, where are the shepherds watching over their flocks by night, the angels we have heard on high, the Star of Bethlehem, The Holy Family: Mary, Joseph, and where is baby Jesus!? Mark begins his Gospel about Jesus with writings from the Prophets Malachi and Isaiah (though Isaiah is the only one named), and of the proclamation of John the Baptist.

Have you ever looked at the beginnings of the other Gospels? Each evangelist has their own way of beginning their Gospel, but there are considerable similarities too. Luke explains the purpose of his writing: Lots of people have been talking about this Jesus, and I want to tell you too. Luke begins with a birth story, John the Baptist’s birth story.

Matthew starts off with a genealogy of Jesus. You may know them as the “begats.” Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, Jacob begat Judah…and so on. You may think to yourself “O! How dreadfully boring.” But there is some deep meaning when you look at it closely. Jesus being traced back to Abraham, through the royal lines of King David, each step along the begats another story; and each one pointing to the work of God even before our moment in the Bethlehem manger 2,000 years ago. And there is the Gospel of John which goes even further back, to the cosmic beginning, echoing the beginning of the book of Genesis: In *the* beginning. What does it mean to declare “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ.” And then have a look back at the prophets?; the prophets both long ago and John who is in the midst of Christ Jesus?

I believe it is an indication that God has been at work for a very long time. He has been at work in the Prophets Isaiah and Malachi, in John the Baptist, in Abraham through whom he borne his chosen people; in fact he has been at work since the very beginning of time to enact his Gospel in the world. The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah. We continue to proclaim God’s saving work in this day and age. What we read here is the beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ.

We hear that word, Good-News or Gospel and may automatically think of the four written books Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the Gospels we call them. We hear the word Good-News and may first think that it means story. That the Good News of Jesus Christ means the stories that tell us about the life of Jesus, particularly this time of year his birth story – manger, mary, angels, shepherd, etc. But Good News is not about the story itself, it is about the proclamation. That word for Good-News shows up in the Old Testament as well. It was often associated with the news of a military victory: Good-News, we have defeated the enemy! Or some event in the royal family like the birth of an heir: Good-News the king had a son. But it is not the news itself that is the good news, it is the proclaiming of it, the act of sharing it; good news means proclamation.

God, with a word, caused all of creation to come into being, and likewise he sent prophets, and his only Son to declare his good news: “The kingdom of God is near.” And the proclamation made it so, the preaching of it, the sharing of it, it is in these acts that the Good-News has it’s power. It is what Jesus does – proclaim the Good-News that God has come near, that he is in our midst. The act of proclaiming it makes it so. The act of receiving that Good-News proclamation is what makes us disciples of Christ.

John the Baptist is our model: Proclaiming the one who is greater than we are; pointing not to ourselves but to Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God.

We are both receivers of the Good News and Proclaimers of the Good News, especially in this Adventen season, which is an in between kind of time – of looking back and looking ahead. I want to encourage you, in these weeks leading up Christmas Sunday; I want to encourage you to consider the beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah in your life. How did you first receive it? Can you think of a time when you really “got it” when you really understood this Good News proclamation that God is near, and what that means for your life? And then consider how that Good News Proclamation made its way to you. It was shared with you. Perhaps by a friend, a parent, a Sunday school teacher – they proclaimed it to you: God is near! That moment when you received it, that was the beginning of the Good-News for you, but looking back at all those who carried on the story before you – God was at work there; and hearing the Christmas story of old this day we may see that God has been at work for a very long time all for the purpose of proclaiming to us the Christmas message: “I am near.”

He did so through the person of Jesus Christ, and we, his disciples continue to tell the story. We continue to tell the story here at the church on the mountain at the county line, at our dinner tables, and in our lives with those we meet.

Proclaim the Good-News, and receive the Good-News as we prepare for Christmas.


 

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