By Robert Falconer
At the start of John’s Gospel, the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Now, just before this Lamb is to be sacrificed, Pilate brings him out, having been flogged, dressed in a thorny crown and a purple robe, and proclaims, “Behold the man!” (John 19:5). Nine verses later, he proclaims to the Judaeans, “Behold your King!” (John 19:1-14). If only Pilate had understood what he declared in jest! Jesus is both the Lamb of God and the victorious King (Revelation 5:5-13).
The gospel is not about going to heaven as disembodied beings when we die 3 but about God becoming King in the person of Christ. The word εὐαγγέλιον, “gospel,” is usually translated as “good news.” The idea comes from the Roman emperors during the time of the New Testament. They would send out good news proclaiming some saving message that would bring about change for the good of the Roman people, like an announcement of victory.
This kingdom was established through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and has infiltrated our world. This royal announcement of good news is that Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, has now been enthroned as the new ruler of this world. The power of God’s kingdom comes upon us and begins to work in our lives when we put our faith in Christ and his saving work. Indeed, Jesus’ proclaimed, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matt. 3:2). At the consummation of all things, God’s reign through Jesus will be made complete, bringing about his perfect justice and peace upon a renewed earth.
Salvation is not the gospel itself, the gospel is the power for salvation (Rom. 1:16–17). Jesus conquered sin by living a righteous life and dying a penal substitutionary death on our behalf. He overcomes death in his resurrection, thereby dethroning Satan and setting himself up as the legitimate new Ruler of the world. While our rebellion and sin against God resulted in his wrath against us and our alienation from him, those who believe in the gospel and Christ’s work of salvation have no condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and may experience everlasting joy and fellowship with God. This gospel demands a response from us—sincere faith and repentance, without which we would experience eternal death.
3 The Bible’s teaching on this idea is infrequent and ambiguous.