Because of what Jesus Christ has done, death and darkness are on borrowed time. Today, Barry Cooper delivers the best news that we can ever hear.
Florida has apparently decided that you can have too many seasons. Better to keep things simple, and just have one. Even the license plates are a constant reminder: “FLORIDA,” they say; “ENDLESS SUMMER.”
At the risk of sounding ungrateful about having to wear sunblock the entire year round, one of the things I loved best about England was winter becoming spring.
Just when you thought you were right in the dead of winter, when even the daylight struggled to get out of bed, when going outside took as much preparation as an astronaut preparing to step outside his lunar module, you’d suddenly notice something that wasn’t there the day before. There, poking through the snow, was a flower—a snowdrop.
There’s something very subversive about the snowdrop. It’s tiny, the petals are almost invisible against the snow, and yet it looks up at you and says: “You see all this dead, cold darkness? It’s finished. I overcame the dead, cold earth. And I’m only the first. I’m just the beginning.”
The snowdrop, I think, is like the gospel. It’s the announcement that death and darkness is on borrowed time. It says that life has already entered the world, almost unseen, and has begun to restore and renew all creation.
Our English word gospel comes from the Old English godspell: god meaning “good,” and spell meaning “news.” So, gospel means “good news.” So good, in fact, that if you think the gospel is anything less than the best news you have ever heard, or ever could hear, then you can be certain that you have not yet understood it.
The first four books of the New Testament—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—are known as “Gospels” because all four of them contain this good news: the good news about who Jesus is and what He came to do.
Specifically: it’s the good news that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of sinners. He is none other than the second person of the Godhead entering the world in order to restore light and life.
As you read the Gospels, you see that Jesus lived a life that was perfect. No one has ever lived like Jesus did, and that’s because no one can. But Jesus lived a life that was perfectly without sin, and He did that so that His lifetime of perfect obedience to God could be credited, freely, to you.
Read on in the Gospels, and you’ll see that Jesus died on a Roman cross “as a ransom for many” (to use Jesus’ own words). That means that He died in order to release people from the condemnation that their sin deserves.
Read on, and you’ll see that Jesus was then resurrected from death to demonstrate—visually, graphically—that He has overcome the power of evil and death, not only in you but also in all creation.
As with the fullness of spring finally manifesting itself after the first appearance of the snowdrop, it will certainly take a while for darkness and death to be fully and visibly swallowed up by light and life, but Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection two thousand years ago show that that day is coming, just as surely as spring follows winter.
Jesus Christ, according to His own promise, will publicly and unmistakably return to complete the overthrow of this winter that has lasted almost as long as recorded history.
That is the gospel. The good news.
Or is it? When you hear all that, does it strike you as good news? Have you felt in your own bones, the biting cold of your own sin, and seen, all around you, the inescapability of death?
And having seen that, have you seen, in the gospel, life and light entering the world? Have you gladly turned away from the darkness and gladly embraced Jesus as your life, your light, your only hope of resurrection from death and rescue from condemnation?
A snowdrop isn’t merely an announcement that life is coming. It is life in itself. In the same way, Jesus doesn’t just announce the gospel. He Himself is the gospel. His perfect life, atoning death, and resurrection have the power to save because of who He is: the God-man, entering the world in order to bring light and life.
It is as if He says: “You see all this dead, cold darkness? It’s finished. I overcame it. And I’m only the first. I’m just the beginning.”