THE GOOD NEWS IN ONE WORD
The are my notes for teaching at the Cornerstone on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020.
INTRODUCTION: GOOD NEWS
Happy Easter, everyone. It's great to be together to celebrate even if we're connected by video, not physically together.
Easter is good news. On that first Easter morning, Jesus destroyed death and rose to life. Today, he is exalted in heaven ruling over all things.
Speaking to a crowd in Jerusalem, the Apostle Peter declared:
(Acts 2:23-24) You, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
Since Easter is good news, I thought this would be a good day to start a three-week teaching series called Good News. Here's how it's planned:
Week 1: Good news in one word.
Week 2: Good news in three words
Week 3: Good news in thirty words.
I hope you'll join me each week so you can be encouraged by good news. Please invite friends and family to listen. People need to know that the Christian faith is good news.
THE GOOD NEWS IN ONE WORD
The good news in one word is this: JESUS.
Let me explain. The very best way to know what God is like, or what God's heart is, or what God thinks about you, the very best way to know all this is to look at Jesus.
Jesus is God's messenger AND God's message to the world He speaks a Word from God and he is that Word (John 1:1, 14).
(John 1:1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1:14) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
And that is really good news. Jesus reveals that God hasn't washed his hands of us. No, Jesus reveals that God is full of grace and he is pursuing us to bring his runaway children home. The Cross speaks:
(1 Peter 3:18) For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
God speaks through Jesus and what he says is he wants a relationship with us. Surely, that's the best news you and I have ever heard.
How can Jesus reveal God to us and bring us home to God? I'm so glad you asked. To answer the question, we should study a Bible passage in Colossians 1.
GOOD NEWS: JESUS BRINGS US HOME TO GOD
To get started, let's look at Colossians chapter one, starting at verse 15. It's focused on who Jesus is and what he has done to bring us home to God. This is how Jesus brings us home to God.
JESUS IS GOD - Colossians 1:15
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
An image is a reflection or revelation. How can Jesus reflect God? Because he is God in human form. We call this the incarnation - God in flesh, and that's why his status is "firstborn," meaning first in rank.
JESUS IS GOD, THE CREATOR - Colossians 1:16-17
16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
The Son is God who took on human form in Jesus, but before he did that, he made the universe. Even in the incarnation, even on the cross, even in the grave, he was sustaining it all - holding all things together.
JESUS IS GOD, THE CONQUEROR - Colossians 1:18
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
The Eastern Orthodox liturgy reads:
"When You, the Immortal Life descended to Death, it was then, that You put Hades to death by the lightning of the Godhead; and when You raised up the dead from the infernal depths, all the Heavenly Powers cried aloud: 'O Giver of Life, Christ our God, glory to You.'" (Matins of the Resurrection)
“Christ is risen from the dead! Trampling down death by death! And upon those in the tomb bestowing life."
Jesus is God the conqueror who trampled death by his own death thereby becoming the firstborn or supreme over the church which is the first-fruits of the new creation - the realm created by his conquest of sin, death, and the devil. He is first in rank over both creations.
JESUS IS GOD THE SAVIOR - Colossians 1:19-20
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
By his death on the cross and his victorious resurrection, Jesus brings us home to God in peace. We have free access to the Father:
(Ephesians 2:17-18) He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
THE GOOD NEWS IN ONE WORD - JESUS
Jesus is God, the creator, sustainer, conqueror, and savior. He is good news in one word: Jesus. This conclusion has implications for all of us:
We should put our faith in Jesus, period. Don't add anything to Jesus. Don't get distracted from Jesus. We never graduate from Jesus. Jesus plus nothing = good news.
When someone asks us what the Christian faith is all about, we should start with Jesus. Don't complicate it. Make Jesus front and center. Help people find and follow Jesus.
When you or a friend want to know what God is like, talk about Jesus. Talk about God's grace, truth, love, power, revealed in Jesus. Talk about God's holiness, righteousness, goodness, and compassion reflected in Jesus. Jesus is the very best, most accurate, Word of God.
Let's be all about Jesus. Love him. Worship him. Follow him and his teachings. Learn about his life and ministry. Become an expert on what he did on the cross. Picture him exalted in heaven ruling over all things. Pray to him. Depend on him. Talk about him. Turn every Bible study and small group discussion to Jesus.
In this time of uncertainty and anxiety, Jesus is the Rock we cling to. He is the shepherd who brings us to quiet waters and restores our souls. He's the one who goes with us through dark valleys. He is our defender. Jesus is the fortress in which we hide. He is the armor of God. He is our strength and shield. He is our peace.
CONCLUSION: HAPPY EASTER
In many ways, this is a very abnormal Easter. But in one way - and the most important way - it is absolutely normal: it is all about Jesus.
Christ is risen from the dead! Trampling down death by death!
He is not dead, he is alive forevermore.
O Giver of Life, Christ our God, glory to You.
Alleluia, praise him!
It's all about Jesus. So, I can say Happy Easter and mean it.