Jesus’ gospel was different to ours. Here’s how the Gospels summarize his message and mission:
Matthew 9 35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
Luke 4 43 He said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
What is the gospel of the kingdom? How is it different to a gospel of personal forgiveness? Jesus’ gospel is on a different scale — the difference between liberating a prisoner and liberating a planet.
The gospel can’t be reduced to a pardon for a guilty individual. Jesus announced a cosmic gospel: the emancipation of a world dominated by sin and death, the recreation of everything damaged during the reign of evil. His goal was not individual conscience relief; his goal was freeing humanity from oppression under evil, to be the agents of God’s governance, the community embodying God’s reign in how we treat each other and his world.
Many people don’t believe Jesus’ gospel. The scope and power of evil feels overwhelming. War, conquest, famine, and death are the tools of tyrants we experience at every level, from family to corporation to country. History is clear: those who stand against tyranny are silenced or slaughtered. Jesus knew. He knew that confronting the sin of the world would cost him his life, that the rulers would put him to death. He knew the world could only be released from those who deal death by an act of God — the one who deals life.
How God fulfilled this good news is the topic of our next post.
For now, we offer this definition:
The gospel of the kingdom is: the good news of God’s kingship restored over the earth.
What others are saying
John Dickson, The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission: Promoting the Gospel with More Than Our Lips (HarperCollins, 2010), 114:
At the heart of the gospel message (in the Old and New Testaments) is the idea of God’s rule as king, in other words, his kingdom. When the first Christians proclaimed this gospel of the kingdom, they were not copying the “gospel” of the Roman kingdom; they were exposing it as a fraud. It was God, not any human king, who ruled over all. This is the central theme of the Christian gospel.
Scot McKnight, “The Mary We Never Knew: Why the Mother of Jesus Was More Revolutionary than We’ve Been Led to Believe,” Christianity Today 50:12 (2006), 29–30:
When Augustus seized power, he was deemed a savior because he ended bitter civil wars and created the peace of Rome (pax Romana). The gospel of Rome was that Augustus, a “son of [a] god,” saved Rome by bringing peace to the world. … Luke tells his readers that Jesus is the real Son of God, the Savior, who brings Good News of peace to the world.
David Seccombe, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Jesus’ Revolutionary Message, Electronic Edition. (Whitefield Publications, 2016):
A gospel at the time of the birth of the New Testament was the announcement of momentous good news, mostly about victory in battle and the rise and fall of kingdoms.