The bad news and the good news

Published 10:28 pm Friday, March 18, 2016

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

Next week is Holy Week, the time when Christians around the world are focused on the Passion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Obviously, we are to be focused on him every day, every week and every second. But this week is a special time on the calendar, as we remember the heart of our faith.

Email newsletter signup

In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul brings us back to these things, as he says this: “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me… (1 Corinthians 1:1-7a).

The word “gospel” means “news that brings joy.” What is this “news that brings joy,” which Paul and the early Christians proclaimed so enthusiastically?

First, that “Christ died for our sins.” Now this presumes that we are sinners. And make no mistake, we are. When I was a small child, my dad used to watch The CBS News with Walter Cronkite each weeknight at 6:30 p.m. Sometimes I would tease him and say, “Daddy, why you wanna watch that old bad news?” He would laugh, but he didn’t argue with me about the fact that most of it was bad. And it hasn’t gotten any better.

But here’s the deal: The bad news isn’t just “out there” in the world. We have sin “in here,” in our hearts. It’s the reason we have high ideals for our behavior that we continually fall short of. Something down deep is twisted in us. We are, as one theologian once put it, “curved in on ourselves.”

That’s really bad news, indeed. And consider this: God is holy, a righteous Judge who hates sin and must bring judgment upon it. This is a serious problem for sinners like us.

But here is good news, the best news in the world: Because our God is loving, as well as righteous and holy, he took his own judgment against sin, by taking our sin on himself, on the cross. Jesus died instead of us, in our place, for our sins.

And then “he was buried” and “raised on the third day.” Ever wonder why Paul goes out of his way to say that Jesus was “buried” and raised on the “third” day? It’s because he wants to emphasize that this really happened. This was a real body that was buried. This was a real body that rose, on a real day. And he was seen by hundreds of real witnesses.

He is alive! Turn to him. Trust him. Receive new life.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.