Faith – What is a Gospel?

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By Pastor Jerry Donovan

The Great Commission marks the end of the Gospel of Matthew. “19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” Matthew 28:19-20 New English Translation. This is God’s mission!

What is a Gospel? Many people think the Gospel was written from the beginning, “Now Mary and Joseph were going to Bethlehem…” But before the New Testament was written containing 27 letters, books and Gospels, the entire New Testament was just three words, “He is risen.”

It wasn’t even written down, it was just spoken. Before any of the four gospels were written; before Paul dictated his letter to the Thessolians; or John had his Revelation on the isle of Pathos. The entire New Testament was just “He is risen.”

During all that time of doubt and rejoicing, and the church beginning to spread the Good News that he is risen many conversations went like this: “Who is risen?” Jesus is risen. “Well how did he die?” He was crucified. “Why, why did they crucify him?” He did signs and wonders and he was the Christ. “Really! Where’s he from?” Well he’s from Galilee but he was actually born in Bethlehem. “What, what? How did that happen?” Alright, Mary and Joseph were going to Bethlehem…

That’s how the Gospels were written. From the end to the beginning starting with the empty tomb and resurrection. And Mark, the first of the four gospels is often described as a passion story, with the last week of Jesus’ life as a long introduction. So, Mark starts his narrative with the appearance of John the Baptist announcing that the adult Jesus is just around the corner.

Matthew probably the second gospel written, who we think probably had the book of Mark in front of him said; “I can do better than that,” and starts the story with an angel appearing to Joseph to announce the birth of the Messiah.

Luke goes, “Oh yeah, I can do much better than that,” and the third gospel appears. He starts with Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, when he is a priest in the temple and an angel appears to him and says: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah…”

Then along came John, John’s the fourth and last gospel written. He says I can top you all and in such a way that I will never be topped. John goes back in his gospel to the start of time. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him.” Of course, the Word was Jesus Christ, RIGHT? John starts the story before time even begins.

Here’s the point then, now, and always will be: the heart of the New Testament is just three words “Christ is Risen!” He is risen indeed!! And because of this good news everyone who is in him is a new creation. The old has passed away and everything has been made new. God was active and alive reconciling himself in Jesus Christ to the world. Not counting their trespasses against us; and trusting in us the message that he is risen.

So that is just a word about what a gospel is in order to think about how Matthew ends. I would like you to just think about what the mission of God is.

You may not be aware, but the Van Horn Christian Shelter has under gone major operational changes in the last few months. The Shelter’s goal is to continue its basic mission of providing assistance to those in need, but also to provide service to the Van Horn Community as needs arise. Currently plans are being made to offer school children lunches after the school lunch program ends in June. A business meeting is held the first Thursday of each month. These meetings are open to the public and suggestions and guidance from the people of Van Horn is greatly appreciated.