Jesus was by far the greatest gospel preacher of all times. His message of good news changed lives for the better everywhere he went. Strangely, no matter how good the news, how many were healed, or how many dead were raised, there were always questions about his being the Christ and some turned away because he just wasn’t what they expected. In Matthew 11:1-6 Jesus had been instructing the twelve when some disciples of John came to him. John was now in prison and likely wondering why Jesus hadn’t come to rescue him. So he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” John had been one of the most powerful witnesses of Jesus as the Christ of anyone. He called him the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world and said he must increase while I must decrease. He reluctantly baptized him and heard the voice of God saying, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” But now he is in prison, for preaching the truth to Herod and he begins to question it all.
Listen to Jesus response. “Go back and report to John what you hear and see. The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy and cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Jesus in his response went back to Isaiah’s prophecy of what the Christ would do and walked down each segment to say, I’m doing all the prophet said I would do. But doing what God had promised by the prophet didn’t seem to be enough for so many people, including John. They had ideas of their own. Many had developed from misunderstandings of the very Old Testament prophesies of Jesus coming. I suspect John expected his message to be with more fire like his and many that John wrote about in John 6 just thought his message was too hard, so people left.
The word gospel simply means “good news” but it is a very specific good news about Jesus Christ. Mark even begins his whole story of the life of Jesus, calling it the gospel of Jesus. Paul once epitomized the gospel in I Corinthians 15:1-5 as being the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” If one simply looked at the different things Jesus said with the word gospel it would involve the kingdom of Christ that he was establishing over which he would reign as king and that anyone could enter by means of being born again of the water and the Spirit. As he sent the disciples on the limited commission to preach the gospel he told them to heal the sick, cast out demons and to preach that they needed to repent and believe the gospel for the kingdom was near.
Paul made two extremely strong statements with regard to the gospel that is very significant. In Romans 1:16 he said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith, As it is written the Just shall live by faith.” It is in the power of the gospel of Christ that people are saved, not the newest fad, best new coffee bar, greatest music in town, or in attacking every other group as not having the truth like you do. Too often we end up preaching far more of ourselves than of Jesus.
The other powerful text on the subject is in Galatians 1:8-9. Paul had just warned that some were turning away from the grace of Christ to a different gospel, that wasn’t another at all. “Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than what I preached to you, let them be accursed. As I said before, so I now say again, if anyone preaches any gospel to you that what you have received, let him be accursed.” It should stand out that changing the message of the gospel to modernize it, make it fit our culture or make it a little easier that does not continue to preach the very heart of the message leads to being totally set apart from God, godliness, and heaven. That is pretty serious business. It would be a good idea both for the preacher and the hearer to check out what they are hearing and see just how much gospel of Jesus is involved.