Jesus was born in the manger not just to give us a beautiful picture of peace that we could celebrate once a year. When Jesus began his public ministry, we are told that he came preaching the Gospel (Mark 1:14). What is the Gospel? That should be a basic thing that all Christians should know. But from my experience, many have not thought about it or have a wide range of views. This is not good.
If there is any agreement it would be something like this: Jesus died on the cross so that if you believe in him you can go to heaven. The problem is that we are told that Jesus preached the Gospel. Do we think that at the beginning of his ministry that Jesus went around saying: “If you believe that one day I will die for you, you can go to heaven”? That does not quite sound right. Plus in Acts and Paul’s letters, there almost seems to be more emphasis on the resurrection than on the cross. What do we do with this?
We are given the answer in Mark. We are told that the Gospel was that the Kingdom of God was arriving (Mark 1:15). That is the Gospel. So how did we get to it being all about Jesus on the cross? Because that is a major part (but only a part) of the Kingdom’s arrival. At the cross, the power of sin was broken. That is a major increase in the Kingdom. In the same way, the resurrection was about death being broken. This also was an increase in the Kingdom.
If the Gospel is about the Kingdom of God, why do we hear so little preaching about the Kingdom? Good question. Perhaps it is because the Kingdom is confusing to people or because many people equate it with heaven. Perhaps the cross and heaven is a simpler message. Whatever the reason, we all need to get back to the the Gospel message of the Kingdom of God. That is the reason for Jesus coming in the first place.