The message of Jesus is good news. Indeed, that’s what the word ‘gospel’ means – literally ‘good news’. And yet sometimes we can miss the wood for the trees; we can all too easily forget that, at its heart, this really is good news. Better than good: it’s the best news I ever heard – hopefully it’s the best news you ever heard, too.
Faced with a diet of bad news stories, of institutional failings, of personal challenges, of familiarity breeding, if not contempt, then a lack of passion, we get ground down. The world around us feels jaded, too – and maybe that rubs off on us as well.
So, what better tonic than to remind ourselves in this series that Jesus is good news! Mark certainly thinks so – the first thing he tells us in his brilliant biography of Jesus is that Jesus is good news: (v1) ‘The beginning of the good news about Jesus.’
Let’s not miss that. Mark is very punchy, and gets straight into the action: no genealogies like Matthew; no outline of his historical approach and extended birth narrative like Luke; no high-falutin’ reprise of the creation narrative like John – verse 2 gets straight down to it. John the Baptist appears and away we go. Bish bash bosh. It’s breathless, it’s exciting, it’s like a US TV drama cramming three hours of British plot into a 42-minute episode. Jesus did this, and then he did this, and then he did this…. I love it. No messing.
But we start with Mark’s two-word summary of everything that follows: ‘good news’! And verse 1 also tells us why: it’s a question of identity. Mark gives Jesus two very important names: he is the Messiah and the Son. And in that short phrase he captures Jesus’ dual identity: the anointed human rescuer, promised by the prophets and dreamed of, longed for, by God’s people. But not just human: God had also promised that he would come and sort out our mess himself. Jesus is the Son of God: not just divinely anointed, but divinely appointed – the One we’ve all been waiting for.
Jesus had to be human to represent us. Jesus had to be God to save us and restore us. And this is the good news Mark is going to share with us: the Messiah, the Son of God is here.
It was good news then. It is good news now. May it be our good news this day, and every day. Amen, come Lord Jesus.