Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?

Did Jesus preach the gospel? Yes and No. It depends on what one means by “gospel.”

For many, the gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus. If that is what we mean by gospel, then Jesus did not publicly preach the gospel. It was only in the last months of his third year of ministry that Jesus even talked about his death and resurrection, and then it was only with his closest disciples (Matthew 16; Luke 9; Mark 9).

But, according to the Gospels, Jesus did preach the gospel; that is, Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom of God (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; Luke 4:43; Luke 8:1; or “good news of God” in Mark 1:14-15).  Indeed, his messianic mission was “to preach the gospel to the poor” (Matthew 11:10; Luke 4:18; 7:22).

But if the gospel in the Gospels is not the death and resurrection of Jesus, what is the “gospel of the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43)? It is the announcement that the kingdom is coming, that the kingdom of God has come near, and that the reign of God is breaking into the world to transform it. The good news of the kingdom is that heaven is coming to earth.

When the kingdom comes, people are reconciled to God, the blind see, the lame walk, the dead are raised, the marginalized are included, the oppressed are liberated, and sins are forgiven. The good news of the kingdom is the arrival of heaven such that the will of God is done on earth just as it is in heaven.  This is the good news or the gospel that Jesus announced.

Some think social action or reconciliation among human beings is the epitome of kingdom work, and others stress the forgiveness of sins or reconciliation with God is the fundamental proclamation of the church.

The ministry of Jesus models a both/and rather than either/or.  The following texts from the Gospels illustrate how it is a both/and.

  • Matthew 4:23: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness among the people.” 
  • Matthew 10:7-8: “As you go, proclaim the good news: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons.”
  • Luke 9:2, 6: “He sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and heal the sick . . . they went out and traveled from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing everywhere.” 

Kingdom ministry heals the sick and reconciles people to God and each other. The proclamation of the kingdom of God identifies those gifts as the good news of the kingdom of God.

Did Jesus preach the gospel?  Yes, he did! He preached the good news of the kingdom of God. But Jesus not only preached the gospel, he also enacted the gospel. He healed diseases, raised the dead, drove out demons, reconciled people, forgave sin, and included the marginalized.

This is the essence of the message and ministry of Jesus, and it is our ministry also.

2 Responses to “Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?”

  1.   Dwight Says:

    In as much as Jesus was the Word and the Word became flesh and was full of “grace and truth” and was the light to the world. Jesus not only brought the gospel, but was the Gospel. He preached and showed compassion and love by feeding and helping others, which was the real message, the love of God towards man.
    The Pharisees preached condemnation and showed no love towards others and pushed the people was.
    Jesus drew the people to Him, which was the point…reconciliation with God.

  2.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    Jesus is the embodied gospel; he is the good news, and he proclaimed the good news that the kingdom of God is breaking into the world.

    Yes, Jesus is the gospel, and he preached the gospel.

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