-Geoff Milton

GOOD NEWS. Despite the restrictions, there is some good news at the moment. This week my tennis club reopened. Maximum ten players at a time, but it is a start. You may have good news, such as being able to visit grandchildren, or holding on to your job.

But many people yearn for deeper good news: spiritual good news from God.

In an interesting development worldwide for those churches running services online, many more people are viewing these services than ever came to the church buildings for a service.

At a time when many of the foundations of the world are crumbling due to the pandemic, let’s look at God’s good news in Mark 1.

1. JESUS is the focus of God’s good news

In Mark’s Gospel chapter 1, Mark goes straight to the point. It is like a news article, main point first, details next. Please read Mark 1:1-15 as we go along.

v1 God’s good news is firmly focussed on Jesus, Son of God, Messiah (God’s rescuing King). Can we trust him? God has prepared the way for his coming. He sent John the Baptist (v4), a prophet of God, to prepare people for Jesus’ coming. John the Baptist had been prophesied about in the Bible by Isaiah 600 years earlier (v2-3). John prepared people when he called people to repent of their sins and be baptised as a sign of repentance and of God’s cleansing from sin and forgiveness (v5).

Perhaps under the current restrictions we are more aware of our own sins – selfishness, temper, lack of self-control etc.

One Christian counsellor used this example: the old basketball in the shed may look OK but when you pump it up and put it under pressure, we see the cracks opening up. We can be like that. John called for people to prepare for God’s coming King by seeing their lives through God’s eyes and repenting or turning away from their sins and being baptised. There was a massive response to this call with huge crowds going out to prepare for the coming of God’s King, Jesus Christ (v5).

2. The good news of Jesus’ POWER TO TRANSFORM us. In v8 we see what God’s King will do. He will baptize or immerse people in the Holy Spirit of God. The powerful Holy Spirit will renew and remake people and empower people to serve God. And we see that happening in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. One implication of this is that through Jesus sending the Holy Spirit, we can receive the fruit of the Spirit in our lives – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22f). That is good news isn’t it? Jesus is not just offering the latest human centred self-help program. This is God’s renewal program and salvation program, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. Perhaps if you are a Christian you can see how God has changed you over the years. Bad habits controlled or weeded out, and new, good, Godly habits strengthened. That’s good news!

3. God’s Good News in Jesus calls for our RESPONSE.  See v15 – Jesus says “The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near” How? through the coming of the King – Jesus, God’s Good News in person. Jesus calls all people to respond to his coming (v15) by repenting – turning away from our sins and believing the good news that Jesus is God’s rescuing King, Son of God, forgiver of sins through his death, sender of the renewing Holy Spirit.

If you are already a Christian believer, turn again in repentance and faith to Jesus, God’s rescuing King and ask him to continue to refine and renew your life through the powerful Holy Spirit.

If you have never believed or trusted or turned to Jesus, do it now! Max Lucado uses the illustration of a father in a swimming pool urging his two young daughters to jump in, and he will catch them. One jumps in, trusting in her father, and is full of joy in her father’s arms. The other is afraid and backs away out of fear of the worst. Will you trust in Jesus? Act on God’s GOOD NEWS!

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