To tell the story of Jesus is to preach the gospel, for the Christian faith is based upon what has actually happened in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is also the story of our salvation.
This followed Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus set out to teach and to preach the good news of the Kingdom. He taught that the time had come for God’s reign to be established: his very coming had brought the Kingdom near. All people, especially the poor and the outcasts, were invited to share in the celebrations.
With great authority, Jesus called disciples to follow him. He healed the sick and oppressed. He challenged and defeated the power of evil as a sign of the coming Kingdom. But Jesus’ actions also challenged the religious authorities of his day, who sought to kill him. Jesus believed that his suffering and death were within the will and purposes of God.
Thus, the death of Jesus was no accident or tragic mistake. Jesus did not give up his life as a victim suffering for a cause. He died on the cross fully trusting that through his death, and by his obedience to God, the purposes of God his Father would be fulfilled. His arrest and trial by the religious authorities, the death sentence imposed by the Roman government, the terrible crucifixion he endured, his death and burial in a borrowed grave – these were not meaningless events. Though they were due to the actions of sinful people, it became evident that God was at work through Jesus in all that happened, and the offering of his life was God’s gift to the world.
Jesus’ death was not the end of the story. God raised him from the dead. The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in bodily form turned failure into triumph and confirmed the power of self-giving love over evil and death. God’s transforming presence is truly among us: Jesus is exalted as Lord and Christ.
Jesus’ ascension into Heaven signified the end of his appearance recorded in the Gospels, and the return of the Son to the glory shared with the Father and the Holy Spirit. It also prepared the Church to understand Christ’s continuing ministry as intercessor in Heaven.
Christ’s return is an integral part of the Gospel as proclaimed in the New Testament. Jesus himself warned against speculation about dates and times, but we look forward expectantly to Christ’s ultimate triumph; we pray for his return and prepare ourselves for the fulfilment of God’s purposes through the return of his Son.
In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we find the story that proclaims the reality of our redemption. His life is our salvation story.
Jesus’ life centred on his relationship with God the Father. He lived in the joy of God’s presence and trusted him completely. He loved God wholeheartedly and was completely obedient to his will, even to the point of suffering and death. In the example of Jesus we see our pattern for living.
Salvation is to enter by faith into the story of Jesus, so that, associated with and transformed by his death and risen life, we may share the fruits of his self-giving.