This was originally written for LRBC on July 9 2017.
Given that Christianity is all about Jesus, and given that Jesus is a figure increasingly familiar only by name in our culture, it would be wise to make sure he is the central focus of efforts to share the gospel today. Earlier generations could be expected to know enough about him that a call to faith, repentance and obedience was adequate for much successful evangelism. Passing on knowledge of Jesus as Good News is required today more than it might have recently been.
I think it would be a great project to read through the Gospels and consider how all of it is ‘good news’. The whole story of Jesus – not just the cross and the resurrection – is considered the good news (cf. Mark 14:9), so it would be useful to be able to share a story from the Gospels and then use that as a starting point for explaining the significance of Jesus. The stories of the leper being cleansed and the faith of the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:1-13) can illustrate how Jesus’ coming was for people who would not expect that God should have a place for them, but that a certain boldness might also be needed in approaching him. The ending (Matthew 7:24-27) of the Sermon on the Mount highlights that Jesus claimed such an importance for himself that one’s destiny hinged on how they respond to his words, which leads to an exploration of both what his words were and how he demonstrated the significance of his identity.
So as you read the stories and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, ask these questions: Who does this show Jesus to be? What does this tell us about why he came? And in light of who he is and what he does, in what ways does he call humanity to respond?