Being a few days before Christmas, I want us to reflect on the true meaning of the word “Gospel.” Some might be wondering what I am thinking but bear with me and hopefully, it will make sense. I have heard the phrase “Keep Christ in Christmas” more times than I care to mention and yet is this really the purpose of Christmas or Christ. The birth of Jesus is a time to rejoice. The angels, the wise men, the shepherds, and the whole host of heaven rejoiced at the birth of Jesus (Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 2:13-14). God has sent the Messiah into the world and that is good news. Yet, it misses a vital part of what the gospel is about. It is a wonderful, joyful, and praiseworthy event that Jesus is born but an infant in a manger cannot save us. For us to understand the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must get past this single event to see the whole of Jesus’ life and message.
Isaiah 53 tells us that the promised Messiah would indeed be born but He would also die. The Messiah would be an innocent lamb taken to be slaughtered for our sins. He would be killed for us! He would take our sins upon Himself! He would face the punishment of God in our place. The Good News is that, while we cannot pay the price for our sins, we don’t have to die. Jesus paid for our sins! Jesus died for us and yet that is not the whole of the gospel message.
The gospels reveal to us the gospel message that Jesus died, being crucified on a cross on a hill called “The place of the skull.” They tell us that Jesus died on that cross and was buried in a borrowed tomb (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; John 19:38) owned by a disciple named Joseph of Arimathea. If the story of Jesus ended in the cradle or the grave it would not be a good story much less “Gospel” to live by. Even the disciples of Jesus were taken back by the death of Jesus and didn’t seem to be sure what to do with it. Peter had already gone back to fishing (John 21:1-3) and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were distraught, not sure what to think about Jesus (Luke 24:13-34). They knew that if the story ended in the grave it was over.
The greatness of the story of Jesus is found in the empty tomb.
“and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,”
The greatness of Jesus, the “Gospel” message is more than a birth and a death. It is that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and resurrected on the third day according to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Now, this friend is something to get excited about. That is truly good news.
Jesus is the Christ, our Savior, and Redeemer because he arose from the grave giving us the hope of eternal life in heaven with him.