The Heart of the Gospel

Vezelay timpanum
 Vezelay Tympanum, Burgundy, France

Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism  but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.  You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached –  how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. ‘We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross,  but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.  He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen – by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.  All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’ Acts 10: 34-43

Here we have the very essence of the first preaching about Jesus.

  1. Jesus was sent by God and equipped by God with the spirit and with power. Jesus is therefore​ God’s gift to men. Often we make the mistake of thinking in terms of an angry god who had to be pacified by something a gentle Jesus did. The early preachers never preached that. To them the very coming of Jesus was due to the love of God.
  2. Jesus exercised the ministry of healing. He was uniquely the helper of men. It was his great desire to banish all pain and sorrow from the world.
  3. They took him and they crucified him. Once again it is stressed, for him who can read between the lines, the sheer horror of crime that was in the crucifixion. That is what men’s sin and disobedience can do.
  4. He rose again. The power which sent Jesus and which was in Jesus was a power not to be defeated. It could conquer the worst that men could do and in the end it could conquer death.
  5. The Christian preacher and teacher is a witness to the Resurrection. To him Jesus is not a figure in a book or someone whom he has heard. He is a living presence whom he has met and with whom he has spoken face to face.
  6. The result of all this is forgiveness of sins. The result is that man has entered into a new relationship with God. The estrangement, the hostility, the fear are gone. Through Jesus the friendship that should always have existed between Man and God, but which sin interrupted, has dawned upon mankind.

William Barclay, Study Bible

 

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