The Gospel Is A Person
“The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Mark 1:1
A Scottish pastor and theologian, Sinclair Ferguson, once wrote, “Grace is not a thing. Grace is a Person.” By this he meant that the grace and kindness we receive from God comes to us in the form of a Person — Jesus, the Son of God. Forgiveness for sin, peace of conscience, rest from works-based religion, entrance into heaven, etc., all of these are wonderful and glorious things. And yet, all of these things are inseparably tied to a Person. He is the reason why we have these things, He has made these things possible (the salvation we enjoy can never be abstracted from the Savior.) In fact, to go further, all of these things are meant to bring us into this Person’s loving fellowship and friendship (John 17:3; 1 John 1:3). Even as a train is never the final destination of a trip (the train carries you to your destination), the many gospel-blessings we have are ultimately carrying us to a destination — the enjoyment of an amazing and glorious Person in whom we find all that we need and more than we could hope for. As John Piper has put it in the title of his book, “God Is the Gospel.”
Let’s briefly consider three things about Jesus which make Him the treasure of the gospel.
A prophet, in the Bible, was a person sent by God to speak on behalf of God (i.e. Moses, Samuel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc.) A prophet came to tell people who God is, what He is like, what He has to say, what He will do for them, and what He commands of them. But why did anyone ever need a prophet? The short answer is that, while man once walked with God in the cool of the garden, the sin of our first parents plunged the human race into darkness, separated from the God we were made to know and enjoy (Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12-14). And now, we are all haunted by questions like, if there is a God, who is He? What is He like? Is there anything He can do for me? How can I have peace with Him? The answers to these kinds of questions came through the prophets sent by God throughout the Old Testament.
But God promised that one day He would send a final and perfect Prophet, once and for all. He would answer our deepest questions about God and show us His true beauty, glory, and goodness (Duet. 18:18; Heb. 1:1-4). This is a baffling thought and precious gospel-truth: Jesus is the answer to our questions about God and all our desires to know Him (both because He perfectly represents His Father, and because He Himself is divine, the eternal Son).
The great question pondered by both the simple child and the most thoughtful philosopher is, “What is God like?” He is like Jesus — a God who came down, became flesh, pursued us, loved us, died for us, redeemed us, conquered for us, wed us, etc. What an incomparable God we see in Jesus! What a healing sight! There is nothing more we need to know God’s heart than what we see in Jesus.
A priest was essentially a middle person between God and men. Since God is infinitely pure and holy, He simply cannot dwell with sin (any more than light and darkness can dwell together, 1 John 1:5). And since all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), we need someone who can come between us and our Maker to take away our sins and restore our access to the Father. From the very outset of Israel’s history, God set up the office of a priest (Exodus 28-30). They made sacrifices to cover the people’s sins and made prayers on their behalf. Through their services, God and sinners were reconciled.
But God meant for these priests to be temporary, because all the blood of all animals could never finally take away all our sins and bring full satisfaction to justice (Heb. 10:4).
Enter Jesus — the Son of God, the Lord of glory — and HE is more than capable of taking away our sins and restoring us to God’s favor forever. He is the perfect and final Priest (Hebrews 8 – 9). Indeed, not only the priest, but also the sacrifice! “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). And for this reason we love and cherish Jesus! He would not allow us to carry the burden of our own sins, perishing for all eternity; He carries this impossible burden for us and pours out His life on a cross (1 Peter 2:24). Here is a God who trades places with His unworthy people and bears their shame, their grief, their sorrows, and buried it all in death forever.
By nature we are drawn to all the old stories about the good, long lost king. The king has been away from the kingdom (for one reason or another), and in his absence tyrants have ruled over the people, causing them to suffer. But then, the story takes a happy turn when the rightful king returns. He defeats the enemies, reclaims his throne, and makes everything the way it was supposed to be (i.e. King Arthur, The Lord of the Rings, etc.) We love these stories because they are an echo of the true story in which we live and move.
We too suffer in a dark world because there was a separation from our great King. Wicked tyrants have ruled over us (i.e. sin, death, and Satan). But at God’s anointed time, our rightful king — the King of kings — stepped on to the human stage and came for our rescue (John 12:15; 1 Tim. 6:15). God promised to send Him (Gen. 3:15; 2 Samuel 7), and send Him he did!
The same Jesus who gave up His life on a cross to atone for our sin, reclaimed His life and rose from the grave the third day. The reigning power of sin, death, and Satan (stretching all the way back to the forbidden fruit) was broken. Even as David faced Goliath on behalf of Israel, our King faced our enemy and triumphed on our behalf. And now, we follow Him in His triumph! Where the King goes, His people go too! His victories are their victories. And since He has now been exalted to God’s right hand in heaven, our future victory is as certain and sure as His. The King has wed His people to Himself, and soon He will share His glory with them. Whatever daily life feels like in this world, our future is bright and our hope is breath-taking. For the Bridegroom-King we wait and look.
“How Sweet the Name”
It is for all these reasons, and many more, that we love and worship Jesus. The Christian faith cannot be reduced to vague philosophy or mere morality, it is intensely focused on a Person — the God of glory who has become everything we long for. Jesus is the treasure of the gospel. He is the good news.
“How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
Jesus, our Savior, Shepherd, Friend,
Our Prophet, Priest, and King;
Our Lord, our Life, our Way, our End,
Accept the praise that we bring!”
— John Newton
Rejoicing in Christ, Michael Reeves
Name Above All Names, Sinclair Ferguson & Alistair Begg
(Blog Date: September 6, 2019)