A few weeks ago in the post, Jesus Came Preaching Bad News, I wrote that Jesus came preaching both good news and bad news. Many people in his audience were all ears and found out the good news was waaaay better than they had expected. But most of them hadn’t expected any bad news, and it sounded waaaay badder than anything they (or we) wanted to hear.
What’s the Big Deal?
The good news Jesus announced was that people can have a right relationship with God through Him. The big deal trouble was this: people couldn’t receive the good news about Jesus unless they believed the bad news about themselves.
Here’s one reader’s comment on what the bad news was:
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive because it dares to trumpet truth claims such [as] what Jesus himself said when telling his hearers, I am the Way, the Truth, the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14: 6). – Jim
The BAD news, in my opinion and probably the opinion of anyone who looked at the true meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, was the rude, sudden awakening of the fact that the way they had been attaining spirituality, no matter how pure the motive, was no longer the status quo! – Kathy
Pretty thoughtful comments from Jim and Kathy. (And thanks you two, for contributing). That Jesus dared to claim to be the only way to God is an offensive truth claim. That the gospel challenges our perception of how to attain spirituality is a rude awakening.
The Offensive Truth & Rude Awakening
If the good news is that anyone can have a right relationship with God through Christ, then the bad news must be that no one naturally has a right relationship with God. (You might want to let that sink in…)
Jesus came preaching that the default state of the human heart is that it doesn’t have and can’t achieve a right relationship with God on it’s own. To Jesus’ Jewish audience 2,000 years ago, that claim was shocking and offensive – and they killed Him for it. To His modern, individualistic audience, that claim remains offensive – and we ignore Him for it.
We ignore it because we don’t like what it says about us. We don’t want it to be true that:
- We’re a lot more out of touch with God than we know.
- We’re a lot more spiritually dysfunctional, broken and needy than we’re willing to admit.
- We’re incapable of earning God’s approval and acceptance.
- We’re wasting our breath trying to achieve a right relationship with God through our good deeds.
- We’re wasting our lives trying to fix our brokenness with behavioral self-improvement.
The Wonderful, Amazing, Saving Power
But this bad news about us is what makes the good news about Him so wonderful. That Jesus makes us right with God when we were not right with God makes the gospel amazing. Without the bad news, the gospel is a powerless sentiment – God’s version of “Have a nice day.”
But with the bad news, it is the saving power of God.
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. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” – The Apostle Paul (Romans 1:16-17)