Two Kinds of Good News: the ordinary kind and the Easter kind
Week 14 in the Word – April 2, 2021
There are two types of good news: the ordinary kind and the Easter kind. Do you know the difference? Here are two examples.
Suppose this morning you wake up and hear the news: a mom in Tennessee got notified that a distant relative of hers, whom she had not known existed, died and left a trust fund that would provide her with $1 M per year for life.
How would you react? If you are like me, you would think Wow, she must feel great. I wish that would happen to me.
You could be happy for that person, but this news will not really make any difference in your life. We could call it ordinary good news, not Easter good news.
But what if you wake up this morning and hear news that you will receive a lifetime trust fund of $1 M per year?
You might think Could that really be true? Maybe there was a mistake. That news is just too good to believe, but I sure hope it is true !
So, you follow instructions and call a telephone number. Lo and behold, you learn that it is true. Your life has just been changed forever!
The Easter good news is like that second scenario. Someone has provided for you a gift of immeasurable value: complete forgiveness of sin, the promise of eternal life with the God of the universe who has adopted you as His child. You will never lack any good thing.
This is not mere ordinary good news which does not make you sad but neither does it change your life. This is like Easter good news. But is it true? Was there a mistake? Is it too good to believe? The prophet Isaiah spoke about it long before it happened in space and time on the first Easter.
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53 (ESV)
The good news of Easter is not about a lifetime trust fund but about eternal life in a new heavens and earth. It is about the promise of complete forgiveness of sin and the security of being adopted by God Himself as His own child. And it is for YOU if you repent and believe the gospel.
This is the good news of Easter. Joy to the world, indeed! Jesus bore the sins of many by His suffering and death. His resurrection is the evidence that assures us that He conquered death and has made us to be accounted righteous. I hope you have received this Easter good news, the very best news of all.
This week we finished the book of Joshua and began Judges. We saw how God gave Joshua wisdom to successfully establish Israel in the Promised Land, but the book of Judges tells a sad story about how sin devastates a nation. A phrase describes Israel during this period: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
In Luke’s gospel we saw how Jesus’ fame brought crowds to hear Him and to seek healing. He called and named His twelve apostles. We met memorable characters like a tax collector named Levi and a woman of ill repute who loved the Lord. Jesus raised a dead man. He answered questions about His identity from two disciples of John the Baptist. At the same time, scribes and Pharisees plotted against Jesus.
This week, we will conclude Judges with two grotesque examples of how “everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” followed by the story of Ruth, a bright spot amid the suffering and sin of Israel. We sense there will be a king in Israel, and Ruth, a Moabitess, will be in the lineage of that king and of the Messiah, the True King of Israel, our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Luke, Jesus continues to teach through parables, like the good Samaritan, and reveal His future which includes His death. The Lord Jesus asserts that God uses all things for good, especially His death, which will lead to life for all who believe in Him.
Tip of the week
Week of April 2-8, 2021
April 2/Day 92 Darkness or Light? (Judges 8-9; Luke 8:22-56) Audio here. April 3/Day 93 The Power and Authority of God (Judges 10-11; Luke 9:1-36) Audio here. April 4/Day 94 How God Uses Evil for Good (Judges 12-14; Luke 9:37-62) Audio here. April 5/Day 95 Why Do Only Little Children See? (Judges 15-17; Luke 10:1-24) Audio here. April 6/Day 96 The Cost of Loving Your Neighbor (Judges 18-19; Luke 10:25-42) Audio here. April 7/Day 97 What to Do while Longing for the Kingdom (Judges 20-21; Luke 11:1-28) Audio here. April 8/Day 98 Something Greater (Ruth 1-4; Luke 11:29-54) Audio here
If you do not have a copy of my book you may want to order one here. However, you may also access the daily audio recordings generously provided by my friend and pastor Charlie Evans above.
Happy Easter to all!