Part one in the What is the Gospel? sermon series.
May 17, 2015 | Sermon text: John 10:1-11
Gospel is a Greek word that means good news. In his first sermon (Mark 1:15) Jesus said “The Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel.” When we read about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, it refers to the good news that Jesus came to this world to save sinners. The gospel message is often summarized in a single verse, John 3:16. But defining what we mean by the gospel is merely the first step. Jesus came to this world and gave his life to bring the gospel; the Apostles, including Paul, were martyred for the sake of the gospel; the New Testament church began in the Book of Acts and continues to this day in order to share that good news and build the Kingdom of God. We need to do more with the Gospel than summarize. The Gospel is more than an invitation to be saved; the lost need to hear it and Christians need to be challenged by it.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd in John 10. Many different illustrations and parables are used to describe what Jesus is like, what the Kingdom of God is like, what salvation is like, etc. because it surpasses our understanding. I am drawn to verses 10 and 11. Verse 10 ends with Jesus’ own explanation of why he came: that we may have life and have it more abundantly. Then in verse 11: The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The bad news is that all we like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). Our lives have been ransomed at the cost of the life of Jesus. Before going to the cross, he explained that no one takes his life but that he lays it down voluntarily. His life wasn’t taken, it was given. His life was offered freely in exchange for ours; the Son of God died so you and I could live. That is good news.
Jesus is given authority by His Father in John 5. The Pharisees were seeking to kill him in John 5, one for healing on the Sabbath and two for making himself equal with God. Jesus explains in vv. 19-29 that His Father has revealed to him all that he is doing and that he now does the same work. He did not come of his own accord but was sent. The Father judges no one, Jesus explains, but has given the Son authority to judge. Jesus was sent with the words of life, and someday everyone will be resurrected to life or resurrected to judgement. He goes on to say the Jews search the scriptures believing they have the words of life but the scriptures bear witness to him (Jesus). He does not condemn them by his own words but it is the very words of Moses that condemns because Moses was writing about Jesus!
Luke 15 consists of three parables: the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin and the parable of the prodigal son. In each case something that was lost was found but only after due diligence was given to seeking. Jesus was sent by God the Father to bring life and given authority to bring judgement those who refuse the gift of life. Jesus called others and equipped them for ministry. He said to Peter and Andrew “I will make you fishers of men.” How many today instead of fishers of men have become keepers of the aquarium? He sent the Apostles out in pairs to preach the Gospel and heal the sick. At the end of his earthly ministry he told those guys to keep doing the things they had seen him do. Next week is Pentecost Sunday and we’ll see how the Gospel spreads when the Holy Spirit comes to the upper room in Jerusalem. “God doesn’t need us to share the Gospel. He could write the Gospel in the sky with the clouds. He calls us to do the work because he loves us.” (I heard this on Moody Radio last week; may have been John MacArthur, my apologies.) We talked about talents two weeks ago – God gives us talents and abilities, calls us into his service to use those, does a work through us that we are not capable of doing on our own, then rewards us for doing it. We must seek the lost. We must go out into the highways and byways and compel them to come in. “The goal isn’t to get people to church. The goal is to get people to Jesus.”
The Gospel cost the Father his Son and the Son his life. The lost need to hear it but Christians need to be reminded of it and challenged by it. We have a responsibility to the Gospel. We have life that comes only through Jesus Christ; we have the words of life and are filled with the Holy Spirit. As it has been freely given, we must freely give.
Part two next week. Read Acts chapter 2.
Peace and God bless.