While still in the midst of a pandemic, and with an ongoing war in Ukraine, we needed some good news and the release from Iran of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anousheh Ashoori is just that. We know more about Nazanin through the tireless campaigning of her husband, and is there a more heartwarming sight than the photo in the press today of Nazanin, daughter in her arms, husband by her side, huge smile on her face? It proves to us that there is still some good in the world.
The Bible word ‘gospel’ means good news. These words from the Christmas story may be familiar to you; “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (1) The message of good news has been written down so that we can all share it. Across the world, it’s been broadcast and everyone has the opportunity to receive and rejoice at the news that the Messiah has been born, the Saviour. But why is this good news? Why do we need a Saviour?
At the beginning of history, Adam ruined God’s perfect creation by sinning, an act of rebellion against God. It seems trivial because he just ate a piece of fruit, but God had made it clear that he was not to do it. It wasn’t long before one of Adam’s sons, Cain, murdered his brother Abel, the second recorded sin. Sin quickly escalated and became much worse, and soon men openly rebelled against God leading to the world we have today. There would be no war in Ukraine today if Adam had not sinned, and no Covid pandemic. Everything bad is a product of sin, not just Adam’s but the sin we all commit.
Yesterday Volodomir Zelenskyy spoke to the US Congress where he asked President Biden to be the leader of the world and the leader of peace. He can see that the world needs someone, but with respect, it’s not Joe Biden, it’s Jesus Christ. Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace” (2) and he alone can bring an end to war and suffering to create a world of peace. The Bible speaks of such a time when it says, “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (3)
The birth of the baby in Jerusalem is the declaration of good news, a Messiah has been born, but more significant than the birth is the death of Jesus because in death he dealt with sin once for all. The Jews had long been waiting for a Messiah but the rest of the world knew nothing about him. The good news for us is that he didn’t just come to die for the Jews, he came to die for all of us. The Bible says, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (4) This is the real good news. Jesus is not just the Jewish Messiah, he is the world’s Messiah.
There is a universal invitation in the Bible, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (5) The good news of Jesus can be your good news. Your sin can be forgiven, you can enjoy knowing God and you can have eternal life, guaranteeing you a future to be lived as God always intended for you.
- Luke 2
- Isaiah 9:6
- Isaiah 2:4
- Isaiah 49:6
- John 3:16