Today’s passage: Luke 19:41-20:8 When Jesus goes up to Jerusalem, it’s the beginning of the end. As he’s approaching the city, he mourns over it. The Romans destroyed the temple in AD 70, a devastating event for the Jewish nation. But in the time of Jesus’ ministry, you didn’t need some psychic prescience to foresee that […]
Oh, great. This verse.
I refer to Luke 16:16, where Jesus says, “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” I’ve never quite known what to make of this verse, or its analogue in Matthew 11:12 (“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force”). Is it a good thing or a bad thing that everyone’s forcing his way into the kingdom of God? Should we try to seize hold of the kingdom for ourselves, aggressively pursue it? Or is Jesus positing that the kingdom is under attack by the brutal and callous people of his day?
Luke 9 starts with Jesus sending out the apostles to cast out demons and heal diseases. He instructs them to travel radically light–no bag, no cash, no food, one change of clothes, bare necessities. And as they go from village to village bringing healing, they’re also preaching the gospel. What are they saying? What are their words?
Yesterday’s post left us with a question. Jesus reads Isaiah 61:1-2 to the synagogue in Nazareth, then shuts the book and tells the congregation, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” How can he have fulfilled those verses, right there at that moment, when the passage in question is about the restoration of the Jewish nation’s fortunes?
I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out an answer to this question, and it’s been like pulling teeth.
We’ve looked at Isaiah 61 before in a different context, but today the context is this: Jesus reads the passage in front of the synagogue, as is traditional, then tells everyone that the passage has been fulfilled right then and there. Everyone is amazed. (“Jesus of Nazareth Reads a Prophetic Passage in the Synagogue. What Happens Next Will Blow Your Mind!”) Right off the bat, this chapter of Isaiah tells us: “The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted” (Isaiah 61:1). Remember that “Messiah” or “Christ” at its root means “anointed one,” and that anointing a person’s head with oil in Jewish tradition was a symbolic way of showing they’d been chosen by God. I’m inclined to conclude that, in a manner of speaking, the gospel is almost as old as the expectation of the Messiah.
Welcome to Luke. The first mention of the gospel comes as the coda to a passage of John the Baptist’s preaching: “So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people” (18). His preaching, however, is hardly a message of comfort and consolation. He calls his audience a “brood of vipers,” (7) tells them that the axe is at the root of the trees (9), ready to cut down those that don’t bear fruit, and warns that the coming Messiah will separate the wheat from the chaff and burn up the chaff (17). Good news, judgment is at hand!
In the aftermath of Easter, we’ve reached the last explicit mention of the gospel in Mark. The resurrected Jesus tells his disciples: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (15-16). His command underscores once again the importance of the gospel as seen in Mark 13:10, “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.” The good news is vital for all of mankind.
Hey, look. It’s Good Friday. And it just so happens that the next instance of the word “gospel” in Mark is where the woman in Bethany with the perfume anoints Jesus for burial. How about that.
Today’s passage: Mark 13:9-13. “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.” That’s Mark 13:10. It comes in the middle of Jesus warning his apostles of upcoming persecution, courtroom trials, floggings, betrayal by family members, and death. It’s similar to a passage we’ve seen before, Matthew 24:9-14, but that passage emphasizes the bigger picture, while here we’re getting a focus on what the apostles will suffer.
Today’s passage: Mark 10:17-31 Yesterday, I concluded that investigating the kingdom of God and what it stands for will give us insights into the gospel. Conveniently, today’s passage explicitly mentions both the kingdom of God and the gospel. So, a man with lots of property is unwilling to sell all his possessions, give the proceeds […]