Is that because the news is always bad? Therefore, the absence of news is a good thing? I have found lately, that I am not the only one who avoids watching the news these days. Filled with current catastrophes and dire predictions of calamities to come, the news leaves me feeling anxious, fearful, powerless, hopeless and alone. It portrays a world I do not recognize, one that I do not feel safe in. Do you, like me, long for some good news, some hopeful, encouraging news that makes today bearable and tomorrow look brighter?
The people in Jesus’s day had been waiting for centuries for some good news. And then it arrived in the person of Jesus, born to Mary and Joseph, just as predicted so long ago. But would they recognize the good news when it was taking place right before their eyes? John the Baptist was put in prison for proclaiming good news (perhaps like today, those in power preferred fear to keep people down rather than hope which lifts people up) and he began to doubt. So John sent some people to Jesus to ask Him if He was the One they had been waiting for. Jesus replied –
“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Luke 7:22)
That is a lot of good news! And it was taking place everywhere Jesus went. Jesus was healing people, feeding people, turning water into wine, dead people into living people and the good news was being preached to the poor! This was significant. God’s love, care and miracles were not just for rich, influential people in positions of power. The good news of God was being preached freely and for free to anyone who would listen, including the poor. Isaiah had predicted this very thing, saying –
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
Isaiah’s words are full of good news and Jesus was fulfilling every one of those good news bearing predictions. The poor were receiving good news for a change, there was healing for the brokenhearted, freedom, release from darkness, God’s favor, comfort, provision, beauty where desolation had been, gladness replacing mourning, praise in place of despair – this is the kind of news that people long to hear. It is news that causes celebration and brings hope.
We could use some of that good news today for sure. And the good news is – that same good news is unchanged and readily available to you and to me today, for free, just as it was then. It is called the Gospel. Now “gospel” literally means “good news.” And mankind, being under sin’s curse, desperately needs some good news. Jesus came preaching repentance, redemption and forgiveness of sins, resulting in reconciliation with God. Definitely good news.
” ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ” (Isaiah 1:18)
That’s really good news. “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.” (John 3:16) More really good news!
Paul said in Romans 1:16 –
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
In these days when I feel surrounded by bad news, I realize I can turn my thoughts to all the good news contained in the Gospel, God’s message of good news to all of us. The angel proclaimed as much on the night of Jesus’s birth saying to the shepherds,
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)
This was good news, full of hope and promise and cause for rejoicing. It is still good news today – still full of hope and promise – still a reason to rejoice. Today, when bad news seems to be inescapable, I will remember Paul’s advice to the Philippians –
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. . . . And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
thank You, Heavenly Father, that the goodness of Your good news, which is eternal, is far greater than the badness of the bad news, which is temporal –
sincerely, Grace Day