Too many funerals lately.
Death isn’t a fun topic. It isn’t supposed to be. In death, we are faced with a fact that all people, good or bad, kind or cruel, rich or poor, face the same end to this physical life.
And yet, it is also a time to hear the Gospel – if they are willing to listen. Not to be forced down their throats, but rather to know that the truth will set them free. To know they can take comfort in a God Who will look after each and every one of us.
“The Gospel”. There are almost as many misconceptions about it as there are about Heaven and Hell. Or, perhaps it is partly because of doctrines like Heaven and Hell.
Many acknowledge that “Gospel” comes from an old English word meaning “good news”. However, you can also translate it “glad tidings”. Most choose the former, though, as the latter translation isn’t much in vogue. However, there is a subtle difference, and I think it is worth noting.
“Tidings” means “news, information, or intelligence” according to Dictionary.com. Tidings can be sad or glad depending upon the nature. It comes from the Old Norse word for “event”. “Tide” is its root word.
A tide, of course, rushes in. A tide is active. A tide can wash away, and it can destroy. “Tidings” to my mind is much more powerful when you think about what it means.
“News”, at least in our electronic age, is something that you passively watch on the television. Perhaps you listen to it on a radio while driving. You might have to flip a page if you are among the dwindling population that still reads a newspaper. The most work you might have to do is if you hear of an event and want to type it into a search engine on the Internet.
Back in the middle ages, though, most people couldn’t even read, let alone type something into a search engine. “Tidings” would be what the government official would send a herald out to proclaim. Perhaps the herald would post a notice somewhere, but he would read it first – because, after all, most peasants couldn’t read what was posted.
So, a herald would have to go out to the location, get everyone’s attention, people would have to gather around, and then the herald would shout out the news or proclamation.
Think about the importance of this. If it were important enough for a sheriff or mayor to do this, it must have been a pretty important message (at least in the mind of the sheriff or mayor).
How much important would it be if a duke or an earl were to do this? A prince? A king?
Jesus Christ came to represent not just any king. He came in the name of The King. He came as a messenger. He came as a herald. He came to proclaim the best news we could ever hear.
Did Jesus die for our sins? Yes, He did! Was He resurrected back to life? Yes, He was! Does He now live? Yes, He does! Do we now have eternal life through Him? Yes, we do!
And yet, that is only part of the Gospel. It falls well short. What about those who are suffering now? Will mankind blow up the earth and kill himself and all other living creatures on the planet? What about those who have never heard the name “Jesus”? Are they doomed? These are not trivial questions!
Over and over again, Jesus proclaimed the “gospel of the kingdom”. What kingdom? Whose kingdom? Why the Kingdom of God to be established on the earth!
Even the mainstream Christians who believe in the return of Jesus seem to miss that that is part of the Gospel. Jesus will come to stop the greatest war to ever take place. Imagine all nations coming together to kill each other off with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. What would be the result?
Once that is done, Satan will be put away and mankind will be taught the right way to live. Mankind will finally enjoy what the Garden of Eden should have been like. From then on, people will have 1,000 years of history to compare to the previous 6,000 or so years to see what a difference there is between two ways of life.
Even that isn’t the end, though. We are told that eventually everyone will be resurrected, and everyone will have an opportunity to enjoy God’s way of life. Those who never heard the name “Jesus” will be able to get to know Him.
And, even that’s not the end! Finally, death itself will be swallowed up!
Is this a message worthy to come from a King? Isn’t this great news? Isn’t this “good tidings” to be proclaimed to all?
In memory of Louise. See you at Christ’s return.