Spring is here. The grass is green, fresh from a soaking rain. The sky is blue. Georgia’s ever present brown thrashers are filling the trees with territorial squabbles followed by victory songs.
Victory songs. I am ready to hear victory songs. I am ready to hear, “Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior, waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord.” You know the rest. A timpani roll. A cymbal crash. Then, “Up from the grave he arose with a mighty triumph o’er his foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain and he lives forever with his saints to reign.” I am ready to hear victory songs.
The Gospel, understood well, is a victory song celebrating God’s triumph over, well, what? So many things. Sin? Yes. Sin, that word that encompasses our rebellion, our looking into the face of God and saying, “I don’t need you. I’ve got enough knowledge of good and evil to live on my own. I’ll tip my hat to you now and then, but this is mostly it for us. Bye.” Sin is that, but sin isn’t only what happens within us. It’s outside of us too. It’s a force, a power, a rebellious power within our world that twists and warps and breaks everything. Nature. The cosmos. Everything. It brings decay and rot. It kills. It’s all part of the Devil’s campaign to steal, kill, and destroy as he seeks sovereign control over everything. The Gospel is the announcement of God’s victory over him, the undoing of all the devil has wrought.
The Gospel. The good news that God is back, through his Son, and is reigning again. It’s not that he will someday reign. He is reigning. The cross is where it began. At the cross we finally see everything as it truly is. We finally see what our “knowing right from wrong” looks like. We finally see that God will endure for us our sin and rebellion, taking it on himself and suffering for us, and even so still forgive us. We finally see what real love looks like and that it extends to everyone, even a sinner such as I. We finally see that even death itself is not the final word, the end. We see that the grave is a resting place but not a final resting place. And with Easter, the resurrection, we see that God will not only raise Jesus, and us, but will transform all the world back to its original, untainted, and maybe even better, glory. With the ascension we see more than Jesus going back to heaven where he came from. We see him, who was and is eternally God and now made eternally Man as well, sitting down at the right hand of God to reign forever. Do you see what this means? Heaven and earth, as in Eden, are together again. It means that all things have been restored.
Or will be. The Bible’s story has a “now and not yet” component. The bible does say, “Christ must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” Death, conquered and beaten is not yet fully buried, but it will be. And that’s the Gospel, too.
This is the story we believe. And tell because this is the Gospel truth.