Any good evangelical could tell you that the word “gospel” means good news. Many today define the Gospel as the “death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” However, this definition is somewhat incomplete. Certainly the Gospel contains the news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Even now, I can see the headlines on the newspapers circa 33 AD:
“CRUCIFIXION!!!” in big, bold, block letters at the top of the page just below the header for the Judaean Times. Under the headline an artist’s rendition of the scene fills the page. The story may read this way: “Today, Jesus of Nazareth was put to death by crucifixion under a dark sky and with many onlookers…”
The next day’s paper would have a small, right-inset article about the burial. “Jesus Buried,” the small-type, article title says. “Last night, Jesus of Nazareth, having been put to death by crucifixion for blasphemy (and/or treason), was buried in a borrowed tomb. Reports indicate that Joseph of Arimathea, the wealthy Judaen businessman, donated his own burial plot for the purpose…”
Two days later, it’s back to big, bold headlines—“RESURRECTION!!!” The story goes on… “The body of Jesus of Nazareth, put to death by crucifixion for blasphemy (and/or treason) two days ago, is missing from the tomb in which he was buried! A Roman soldier, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak of such matters, indicated that the removal of the large stone took place at approximately the same time as a local earthquake. Several women known to have kept company with the self-proclaimed Messiah have given testimony to seeing him alive.”
So, that’s the news part. Jesus died. Jesus was buried. Jesus rose again. But what makes any of that news good? What makes the news of Jesus’ death good? What makes the news of his burial good? What makes the news of his resurrection good?
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures…”First Corinthians 15:3-4
Did you catch that? “Christ died for our sins.” The news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is good because it was done for us, on our behalf! By dying on the cross, Jesus was accomplishing a work in my place, on my behalf, for me. What was necessary to satisfy God’s righteous demands of punishment for wrongdoing (sins), Jesus did for me and you. That is good news!
But the good news doesn’t stop there. How you can benefit from this news is good news too:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”Ephesians 2:8-9
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”Acts 16:31
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life…”John 3:36
Faith is the lone condition of receiving the gift of salvation which was purchased for us by Jesus Christ. No work on my part is necessary. He did the work so that I wouldn’t have to; he did the work because I couldn’t have. By simple dependence on Jesus alone, His work benefits me.
That is good news!