Have you ever thought about what the early church gospel was like? There was no communication beyond word of mouth, carried by travelers from one part of the world to another, and even that was rare. Most people never left their region, though the Jews would occasionally travel to and from Jerusalem to go to the temple.
Rumors may have spread around Judea and Galilee about Jesus, but he was not the first out there claiming to be the Messiah. Others had come and gone. Certainly, even more would follow. He may have been the only one said to do miracles, but people were likely skeptical. They knew stories can be wildly exaggerated.
So, what was the message of the early gospel? What power did it possess that it wouln’t die out like all the other stories of would-be Messiahs? Why has this message changed the world?
Because it was so simple. Jesus was the Messiah, as demonstrated by the fulfilment of prophesy and the works he performed. He was killed, but God raised him from the dead. Repent of your sin and be baptized.
That was it.
For those who had heard of Jesus, this had tremendous impact. Peter preached that message at Pentecost, and 3000 made commitments. To Gentiles in the surrounding countries, some history was missing, but the heart of the message lay in Jesus, sent from God, killed by men, and raised up to appear to witnesses who then spread the news.
The resurrected Jesus is the gospel. Easter is the gospel! The kingdom of God is an Easter kingdom!
But that is not all. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power behind the story, and the power working in the hearts of those who hear it. The reason Easter is celebrated around the world is the power of God. It is God, behind the words, that give them impact.
Rejoice, friends, for the power that has changed the world through the simple story of Easter is still at work in and through us today.
He is risen!