The breathless runner comes to a stop inside the city walls. He raises his right hand and boldly shouts, “Rejoice! We have won!” As he repeats the message throughout the city, his head is crowned, his spear is decked with laurel, and his face radiates the exciting victory. Such was the day of “good news” in ancient Greece. (The original Greek word for “good news” was euangelion – you ahn GELL ee on).
During a birthday celebration of Caesar Augustus (Sept. 23), this same word was used by an over-enthusiastic Greek citizen to praise him: “The day of Augustus's birth was the beginning for the world of the ‘glad tidings’ that have come to men through him. Our proconsul has devised a way of honoring Augustus . . . that the reckoning of time for the course of human life should begin with his birth.” Little did that fellow dream that only four years after he wrote these words a baby would be born who would totally eclipse the glory of Augustus. His birth would be “good news”of great joy, and 2000 years later our calendars would still be dated by his coming.
The “gospel” is the “good news” of Jesus. His coming marked the dawn of a new era. The gospel is a message of victory from the battlefront; it is the power of our salvation. Because he died for our sins and rose triumphantly from the tomb, we can boldly proclaim, “Rejoice! We have won!”