by Kathy Howard
When I was a girl, every Christmas Eve my father would read the biblical account of that first Christmas from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. I can still hear those familiar words in my Dad’s sweet voice – King James style. Matthew records the angel’s visit to Joseph and the journey of the wise men from the east. Luke tells of Gabriel’s amazing message for Mary, the birth of our Savior, and the dramatic announcement to shepherds in a field outside of Bethlehem.
But did you know that the Gospel of Mark has its own version of the Christmas story? But unlike his long-winded gospel brothers, the fast-moving Mark gets straight to the main point – Jesus came to earth, and it was really excellent news for everyone.
This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. Mark 1:1 NLT
I think we all could use a little good news right about now. Bad news abounds. Most days it’s all we hear. Stories of death, disaster, and deceit flow from every corner of the globe. Bad news often dominates our personal lives, too. Loss, grief, illness, financial difficulties, relationship struggles, and more weigh heavy on our hearts and minds. Maybe even today you simply long to hear some good news for a change.
Like us, the Jews in the first century longed for some good news. Rome, the dominate world power, held Israel under its mighty thumb. The deliverance God had promised long ago still tarried. Where was their long-awaited Messiah?
Then finally, a new message, a spark of hope. People flocked to the wilderness, responding to John the Baptist’s call for repentance (see Mark 1:1-20). But John was not the good news, he was merely a messenger.
John’s life and ministry fulfilled prophecy. He was the messenger prophesied by Malachi (Malachi 3:1) and the wilderness voice foretold by Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3). Like the angels would announce the good news of Christ’s birth to the shepherds outside Bethlehem on that first Christmas, John also declared the good news of Christ, calling people to repentance, preparing their hearts for the Savior’s arrival.
Then Jesus burst on the scene and the long wait ended. God the Son had finally arrived. Good news indeed!
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15, ESV
The first sentence of the Gospel of Mark announced to readers then and now that Jesus Christ is the good news – or “gospel” – for which we’ve been waiting. The Greek word translated as gospel referred to a glad announcement that heralded great benefit for the hearers.
Christ died for sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day, defeating sin, death, and the grave. His presence fills us with grace and strength for today. The Gospel also birthed the church, changed the world, and continues to propel us towards God’s full and final purposes.
Yes, bad news still makes headlines. But for those who belong to Jesus, His Gospel decidedly trumps any bad news the world can deliver. The Gospel of Christ. Life conquers death. Hope pushes out despair. Joy overwhelms grief. Truly the best news ever.
This article was brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. Kathy, who has a Masters of Religious Education from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, is a devotional and Bible study author. She also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her husband live near family in the Dallas/Ft Worth. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Kathy provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org.
Her new 40-day devotional book, Deep Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark, is available now! Want to experience regular spiritual nourishment from the Bible, but not sure how to start? Deep Rooted, a 40-day devotional journey through the life and ministry of Jesus, will show you how to interact with and apply Scripture, not just read it. Finally, a daily devotional with some meat on its bones!
Join the conversation: What good news brings you joy this holiday season?