Here we are at Christmas Eve. We think of all the songs and poems ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’ this sense of building anticipation. In all of this we wonder, what is it that we are really celebrating.
A we who are believers in Jesus, what is it that our friends and families understand we believe? Is it some world view that gives us comfort. We believe in God, and that means we have a belief that on our death we go to heaven. Is that it? Are we living and sharing a life of excitement, something that has to be shared?
Mark in his gospel begins his book like this:
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” Or to paraphrase it, the good news of Jesus Christ Son of God begins here.“
The good news is not about an experience, it is about a person Jesus Christ. The Bible is the unfolding story of God, it is the revelation of God and what he has done. That’s the good news. That God is not distant and disinterested, God is present and active. Has been, is and always will be. The gospel, the good news is about God so engaged with us, that he came and lived with us. He did so in such an unexpected humble way that he wasn’t recognised. But in Jesus we see the heart of God for us – his love, his desire to give us a new beginning to live a life in relationship with him. To know that despite the mess the world around us might be, the frightening and painful circumstances we are facing, God is in control and will put everything right.
This Jesus, who Mark knew, proved himself to be God not because he acted from a distance but because he came near – Emmanuel God with us. This Jesus who turned water into wine, let’s keep this party going, this Jesus who, listening to the heartbroken cry of a father for his daughter responded and raised her to life, this Jesus who looked at those who society despised and went and ate with them, this Jesus who looked on the disfigured and scarred, and said be healed, this Jesus who stopped as the blind man cried out and said what can I do for you, and did as he was asked and gave him his sight.
This Jesus who revealed powerfully the love of God for us. This Jesus who comes to us in the din of huge crowds, soldiers shaking dice gambling for his clothing, and priests raging with hatred against him, crowds who at once loved him and were drawn to him, who later would turn against him.
This Jesus who was so misunderstood that in the midlde of a shouting and cursing crowd is spit at, flogged, treated with shame and dishonour. Has a thorn of crowns pushed onto his head, and in great darkness drinks the cup of suffering on a cross.
It is this Jesus that Mark begins his book by saying this is the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ. Why? Because Mark was a witness to the power of God at work in and through Jesus.
What was the purpose of that work? To allow us to begin again. That is the wonderful good news for us. There is a new beginning. Not in our selfish desires, not in us having a God who will do what we want when we want it. Not in a God who fulfils our desires – NO because on our sinfulness we don’t understand what our greatest need is.
Our greatest need is a new relationship with God and a new relationship with each other. And our relationship to God is based on unmerited forgiveness. Jesus came to fill the gap – a Jesus who will transform our lives and who has begun a new Kingdom.
That’s the exciting good news. We believe in a Jesus who has conquered death, who has shown us there is an eternal purpose to life. A Jesus who loves us so completely that he humbled himself to be with us – to show us we are valued.
‘That is the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ son of God. Are you excited? Then make it your goal this Christmas to tell someone who it is you believe in.