The word “gospel” means good news, glad tidings, the proclamation of the grace of God manifest and pledged in Christ.
The first words of Mark’s gospel are “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”, Mark 1:1.
Later he goes on to record this; “Now after John (Baptist) was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, Repent, and believe in the gospel”, Mark 1:14,15.
After His great time of temptation in the wilderness, following which He returned in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus went into the synagogue at Nazareth where he had been brought up. There he read a portion of the scroll that was telling of the coming Messiah. When he finished reading, remarkably He sat down as an indication of His authority and right to speak and applied the text to Himself!
“When He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
The He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. So, all bore witness to Him, and marvelled at the gracious words which proceded out of His mouth, Luke 4:17-22”.
The time was fulfilled. “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son …Galatians 4:4”.
This would have included all the time of the prophets right up to John, whom Jesus would describe as the greatest of the prophets. Every Old Testament prophecy had been or was about to be fulfilled. Everything in the then known world was ready, politically, economically, etc. The Roman Empire with their great roads and civilisation were all available to ultimately aid in the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The fulness of the time had come!
One perspective is to see Jesus on earth as a man announcing, and moving in, the power of the kingdom of God. Another perspective is to understand that Jesus was not merely another human being however wonderful. He was, as Mark told us, the eternal Son of God.
The incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most amazing miracle! He left the unsullied glories of heaven and intimacy of love with the Father and the Spirit, to come to our sin sick, broken world, to save us!
Here is one of the most wonderful sections of Scripture describing the glories of Christ in His Sonship.
“Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, for by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the the dead, that in all things He may have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fulness should dwell and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:15-20.”
Here is the clearest statement of Scripture concerning his incarnation and His self-emptying.
“Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant , and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross, Philippines 2:6-8”.
The sentence, “made Himself of no reputation”, is often translated “He emptied Himself.”
It is important for us to note at this point that Jesus did not cease to be God when He came to earth as a man. He emptied Himself, not to divest Himself of His sonship as some erroneously teach, but to choose not to act in that manner.
“In the incarnation Jesus did not (and could not) become “less God” in the incarnation. No deity was subtracted (though He did renounce some of the rights of deity); rather humanity was added to His nature.” David Guzic in the BLB”.
“His condescension was free, and unconstrained with the consent of His Father…the Son of the Highest can, at His own pleasure, show or eclipse His own glorious brightness, abate or let out His fulness, exalt or abase Himself in respect of us (Poole)”.
God was on the earth breathing, living, walking and working in the person of Jesus Christ!
God’s gospel had come!
The gospel is essentially the person of Jesus Christ.