“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come,” (Matthew 24:14, ESV).
A very Merry Christmas to our readers. Continuing with a meditation from Matthew 24 seems inappropriate for a day of such global significance and celebration as Christmas. Yet, it fits in the context by punctuating the cataclysmic scenario with this consoling prelude to the end: the proclamation of the gospel of the Kingdom.
Against all pretentions and denials, the reality all around us is that our greatest need is peace within ourselves, peace with God, and peace among men. The birth of Jesus Christ was announced by the angelic choir with these words: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14).
Earlier, the angelic messenger had told the frightened shepherds: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people,” (Luke 2:10). The angelic ecstasy seemed to be a transmission of the heavenly understanding that was not apparent to the human sphere. There was much trouble around them at the time – both political and spiritual. Two millennia on, the world has proved the difference that the birth of Christ makes to individual lives, families, and nations.
When, therefore, we read these words about the universal proclamation of the gospel preceding the end, we are consoled that the good tidings from Heaven will always be relevant to the human condition; however bad the times may be. It is timeless good news for the worst of times and people.
What really is the gospel of the Kingdom? It is that, in Christ’s birth, ministry, death, and resurrection, a return path has been provided for alienated man to be reconciled to His God.
The sentence of eternal damnation on fallen humanity is eternally changed to a welcome into the family of God for those who welcome Christ into their lives and appropriate the benefits of His saving mission. The life of Christ gives substance to the gospel message and hope to humanity in our troubled world.
The famous composer, Isaac Watts, captured the benefits of the birth of Christ in his famous carol titled, Joy To The World, when he writes: “No more let sins and sorrows grow/ nor thorns infest the ground;/ he comes to make his blessings flow/ far as the curse is found.”
It is not that the whole world may ever embrace the gospel, but it will be as a witness, a testimony that God had made an offer, a provision for an alternative life and eternal destination and everyone in every nation will have a chance to accept or reject God it. This is the passion that drives global missionary endeavours. The verses that follow the most famous verse in the Bible says: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God,” (John 3:17–18).
Have you made your response to this gospel that will usher in the close of the age?
• Most Rev. Emmanuel Egbunu is the Diocesan Bishop of Lokoja and the Archbishop Emeritus of the Anglican Province of Lokoja.