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So, what is the Gospel? Is it a proposition or doctrinal belief to accept? I don’t think so. Do you remember the encounter Jesus had at the tomb of his friend, Lazarus in the 11th chapter of John, with Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha? Lazarus had died four days earlier and Jesus was unable to be there for the burial. When Jesus finally arrived at their home, the sisters were sad that Jesus got their late and were both counting on their belief about the resurrection at the end of time. Jesus said to them, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
NOTE when Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.”, Martha quickly thought Jesus was talking about the final resurrection and she moved right into gear about that teaching of future hope. But Jesus had an entirely new meaning to what he was saying: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Jesus is saying the Good News of the resurrection he is referring to is not a doctrinal belief system; this Good News is personal! This is an invitation into a relationship with Jesus, himself.
Later, there is a similar misunderstanding. In John 14 Jesus explains to his disciples that he will be going away from them to prepare a place for them. Traditionally, we have viewed this as going to heaven to prepare a place and he will come back to them someday to be with him forever. However, Jesus goes to the cross and returns to them through the resurrection in just a few days. Maybe our thinking has been slightly off here.
Jesus says: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. My Father’s house has plenty of room; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)
This prompted Thomas to speak up: Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:5-6) Thomas misunderstood. He thought Jesus was giving a set of directions to a location in order to be with him and the Father. However, Jesus, again, had a different meaning. Jesus was saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Again, Jesus is inviting his disciples into relationship with him.
So, what is the Gospel? According to Jesus, he is the Good News. Jesus is the Gospel! The Gospel is Jesus and his Kingdom message. Jesus is the subject of it, the object of it and the life of it! This isn’t a matter of semantics. It’s personal! His name? Jesus, simply Jesus.