Letís Be the Good News People: Part 1

January 22, 2006

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

Mark 1:14-15

Jesus Begins His Work

 14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."

 

 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! A little boy named Jimmy was sitting at the dining room table coloring. He was working away on his picture with his crayons when his mother said to him, ďWhat are you doing?Ē

 

Jimmy said, ďIím drawing a picture of God.Ē

 

She said, ďJimmy, nobody knows what God looks like.Ē

 

Jimmy said, ďThatís why Iím doing it. They will know when Iím through.Ē I like that boyís attitude. He had a good spirit about himself, and he had a good spirit about God.

 

The title of todayís message is ďLetís Be the Good News People: Part 1.Ē Letís take a look together at what happened in todayís gospel. There are two verses that give us a key to what Jesus did throughout his preaching ministry. Youíve heard that phrase, WWJD Ė what would Jesus do? Some people wear it on bracelets. The question this morning is WDJD Ė what did Jesus do? And we have in this morningís gospel two verses that answer that question.

 

Letís read together verses 14 and 15 of Mark, chapter 1. ďNow after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, This time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.íĒ

 

WDJD. Hereís the answer Ė after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying this is the moment. God is very near you. Repent; change your mind. Resolve to do that which God wants you to do. And believe in the good news. Good news is mentioned twice. Jesus was the bringer of the good news of God.

 

So what did Jesus do? He went about preaching the good news. I think itís interesting that verse 14 begins, ďAfter John was arrested.Ē Thatís John the Baptist. He was a counter-culture kind of guy. He was a scraggly sort of fellow with an on-fire message; he was a very hard kind of preacher. He got himself in trouble with Herod, and Herod had him arrested. Jesus came and followed in Johnís footsteps.

 

But, you see, Jesus was different, because Jesus brought the good news. Thatís what made Him so wonderfully attractive. Everything that Jesus said was for peopleís uplift, because the news about God is good.

 

Whatís the good news of God? The good news is that God is; God cares. God has a wonderful plan for your life. Thatís the good news of God. The good news of God is that He so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, and the Son so loved us that whosoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Thatís good news!

 

Whatís the good news? The good news is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The overflowing love of God! I had a bottle of Poland Spring seltzer. When I went to open it, it was a little warmer than I thought, and I had an overflowing situation. Thatís the way Godís love is. It is overflowing goodness. Thatís what Jesus came to preach and proclaim. Jesus came to exchange the worldís bad news for Godís good news. Thatís what makes Him so attractive. Thatís why weíre here, and thatís why people followed Him in His day.

 

So, the first thing Iíd like us to think about is that Jesus was the bringer of good news. I was talking with a friend, and she said that one thing that attracts her to Christ and to Christianity, after having experimented a lot with Eastern religions, is that one simple notion of grace. She said that, in the Eastern religions, which can teach us much, there is a notion of inescapable karma, of our mistakes coming back to haunt us, of being repaid exactly as we deserve. But Jesus had good news. Jesus said no, thereís grace. There is coverage for our sins. We may make mistakes and we may fall short, but thank heaven for the grace of God! We are covered; we are blessed. And we are treated not as we deserve but as God blesses us. Itís a wonderful thing.

 

So, the first thing to remember is that Jesus went through Galilee proclaiming the good news of God, that today is the day the Lord has made, and the kingdom of God is drawing near. Our response to that is to repent and believe in the good news.

 

Friends, one of the responses we can have to that is to look for good news in your life and in your world. Ever tune in to the 11 oíclock news? I used to, and then I hoped that Leno would cheer me up afterward. Slim chance. ďNow in the newsÖin Iraq today, on the road from Baghdad to Tikrit (fill in the blank). In Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, a four-alarm fire (fill in the blank). Today in the Midwest, in a local school (fill in the blank).Ē Thatís about it. Iím not minimizing this; Iím not saying that itís not important. But isnít there something good going on in our world, too? Iím not for an instant suggesting that we be insensitive. But I am asking, ďAre there good things to report?Ē And why donít they balance it out and tell us some of the good things? I donít know the answer.

 

I was in the exercise program at my cardiac rehab this week and the nurse was taking my blood pressure. They had the television on. It was CNN or something, and the nurse shook her head and said, ďI canít bear to listen to this anymore. I certainly donít watch it before I go to sleep. It all seems so tragic, and yet Iím terribly afraid Iím going to miss something.Ē

 

Why donít we look for the good news? Look for the good news in your world. Look for the good news around you. Be a good news kind of person. Thatís what makes you an irresistible Christian, when you carry good news.

 

Think of your workplace. What if someone came into the room and said, ďIíve got great news!Ē What would happen? Iíll bet everyone would drop everything and ask, ďWhat is it?Ē No matter how large or small, we hunger and thirst for good news. People did then; we do today. Be followers of Christ, and look for good news.

 

When I was a child, I came home with my report card. There were four As and a C. Praise God for my parents; they didnít even look at the C. They said, ďFour As! Thatís great!Ē I am grateful for that. (Between the services, Laura asked me what the C was in, and I said, ďProbably Phys. Ed.Ē Itís amazing what changes after a heart attack. Actually, the C was in handwriting. I had very bad handwriting as a kid. Thatís probably why I took up calligraphy.)

 

Anyway, my parents looked for the good news, and they found it. Iím so grateful to them. Iím so grateful that they didnít ask why that C was there, why I didnít do better. Bless them; Iím so grateful.

 

Look for the good news in your world. I bet youíll find it. And when you find it, I invite you to share it. Share the good news. Tell the people you love that you love them. Tell the people who are doing good for you that theyíre doing good for you. Lift it up. Choose. Weíve all got choices.

 

Hear me well, please. I am not suggesting for an instant that you deny your real feelings. If you come to me for counsel, if you have something heavy on your heart, I tell you, you will have my full attention. I promise you, I will not push you away from your feelings. Those are real, and you need to deal with them.

 

But day by day, donít we have choices? Arenítí there things that we could choose one way or the other Ė what weíre going to say, how weíre going to treat people? My simple request to you is to follow the way of Jesus Christ and be a good news person. Choose the good news.

 

For instance, a composer writing music has to make a very basic choice at the outset of the composition. Generally speaking, when the composer sits down to write a piece, he or she has to choose if itís going to be in a major key or a minor key. Major keys generally sound happy. Minor keys generally sound sad. If a composer wants something sad and misty, heíll choose a minor key. If he wants something happy, heíll choose a major key. Arenít we glad that there is a major key to choose in a song like ďThe Wedding MarchĒ? [Pastor Tony plays ďThe Wedding March first in a major key, then a minor key, on the piano.]

 

I invite you to follow Jesus. Be a good news bringer. Wonít you feel good about it? Wonít the people in your world feel good about it? Wonít the Lord feel good about it? Letís be the good news people. God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.

 

© 2006 Anthony J. Godlefski