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The Gospel-a knock on Rome and a promise to Israel

The Gospel-a knock on Rome and a promise to Israel
by Roger Festa

“The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” – Mark 1:1
Two thousand years after this was written, Christians confidently proclaim that there is no gospel without Jesus Christ. However, to those reading it for the first time – this was a bold proclamation for a lowly carpenter to fulfill.
To the Roman or Gentile audience the Gospel of Jesus Christ was an attack on what they believed. Gospel, meaning good news, was often spoken in conjunction with the coronation of a new ruler. Commentators often cite the Priene Calendar inscription dated 9 BC in honor of Augustus, referring to his birth as the “birthday of the god Augustus…the beginning of the good news for the world…”
To the people of Israel, it was the dawn of fulfillment for everything they had been anticipating since the exile. This is the good news spoken of by the prophet Isaiah in chapter 40, pivoting the book from its dark and dreary theme with the word “comfort”. Verse 9 states, “Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news.”
What good news is this? Vv. 10-11, “Behold, the LORD God comes with might and his arm rules for him…He will tend his flock like a shepherd…”
Isaiah prophesied in a time far from glorious for Israel. They were exiled from their land and in bondage by other nations. The “ruling arm” of verse 10 hearkens to a similar time when the people of God were under another’s ruler – Egypt. Exodus 6:6 states that the Lord will redeem them with an “outstretched arm.”
The shepherd imagery is intensely identified with Ezekiel 34 where God condemns the poor and selfish conduct of the shepherds or caretakers of Israel. The LORD’s solution comes in verse 15 when he states, “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the LORD God.”
Is it any wonder why Jesus had compassion on the people as they were like “sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36), and of course the great declaration in John 15, “I AM the Good Shepherd.”
So let’s broaden our definition in both our reading and speech.
To the Gentiles he was the true ruler, the true deliverer, the true “born of God” bearer of good news in the face of their high and mighty leaders who offered nothing more than their time on earth to eventual death. They could not truly offer life, because they had no power over death.
To the Jews he was the fulfillment of salvation. He is the image of the invisible God who promised to personally care for them as a shepherd, and the ruler who promised to deliver them out of bondage as he did in Egypt.
With this Mark opens his account, slowly revealing who is this Jesus, and what is this good news.

This article was taken by permission from http://growgospel.com/a-promise-to-israel/



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