Good News!

I don’t normally watch RPA. To be honest, I’ve never been good in hospitals.

I still remember the nervousness I felt as a child, visiting my mother who worked in a hospital. I’d walk straight down the corridor - looking neither to the left nor the right - hoping to avoid seeing anything bloody, painful or even mildly distressing.

For someone with a chronic aversion to hospitals, RPA is a television program to be avoided!  However, one Wednesday night I found myself watching a very moving episode. The story followed 19 year-old Milise - a Fijian woman with kidney failure. Her older brother came to the rescue with some good news - offering her one of his kidneys, and so they travelled to Sydney for the operation.

The good news continued as the kidney was successfully transplanted, and as she lay in her bed recovering, Milise was asked how she could repay her brother for this gift. She responded: “There’s no way to repay that gift, that’s for sure”. The episode was a beautiful picture of a brother giving of himself, so that his sister might live.

I was drawn to a similar good news story - a story of incredible sacrifice in the Sydney Morning Herald. The headline read: “Holidaying Aussie sacrificed his life for daughter”.

It was a tragic and moving story: Former Balmain Tigers winger Gary Mara saved his young daughter's life moments before he was killed at a pedestrian crossing in Los Angeles. Mara, who played first-grade rugby league for the Tigers and the Parramatta Eels during the early 1980s, died on Tuesday during a family holiday in the US to celebrate his 50th birthday.

His distraught wife Julianne has spoken about how her husband of 10 years saved the life of their eight-year-old daughter Olivia moments before an allegedly drunk driver struck him at the crossing, near the Santa Monica pier. "The car just came from nowhere," Mrs Mara, 43, told the Nine Network. "Gary picked Olivia up and threw her out of the way. He saved her life."

Little Olivia now lives because of the loving, self-sacrifice of her father, who gave his life so that she might live. These good news stories are deeply moving because they describe a love that is more than just words - love proven by costly action.

The Bible tells a story of good news for us - news that is good because it is about the sacrifice God made for the people he made and loves deeply. In the Bible, we read of how God’s love for his people is demonstrated:

“But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ dies for us!” Romans 5:8

To grasp the depth of this good news, we need to understand what it means to be a sinner, and why Christ would need to die for us.

“While we were still sinners...”

The concept of ‘sin’ has been watered down to mean little more than ‘being a bit naughty’. Open up any collection of recipes today and you’ll see that ‘sin’ is most commonly used to describe an unhealthy dessert! But our biggest problem isn’t cheesecake. Our biggest problem is how we’ve related to God, and the serious consequences for this.

God made us.

God provides for us.

God is the source of every breath.

God is the reason the sun comes up in the morning.

God loves us!

And how do we, as a human race respond?

We ignore God. Oppose God. Fail to thank God. Refuse to listen to God. Forget we depend on God.

“When they had pasture, they became satisfied; they were satisfied, and their hearts became proud. Therefore they forgot me.” Hosea 13:6

This attitude toward God is described as sin, and the Bible is describes people who sin as sinners - enemies of God. It is a damning assessment, and no one escapes this description. While we like to create sliding scales that place us in a nice category, everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). The consequences for this are very serious - the Bible explains that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Everyone who sins deserves the death penalty. This is not good news. In fact, this is the worst possible news.

This presents God with a terrible predicament. God is just and God is loving.

Be a judge who says: “What you have done is wrong, and deserves punishment, but I’m going to let you off”. This is unacceptable - we are rightly outraged when we hear of judges letting off people lightly when they have done wrong. It’s not right - wrong doing deserves punishment.

It is true that when we are wronged or observe wrong doing, we demand justice. And yet, when we are do wrong, we cry out for mercy. God knows our predicament. He knows we need mercy, and he does something incredible.

God is the judge who says: “What you have done is wrong and deserves punishment. I will be punished instead of you”. That is good news!

“...Christ died for us!”

God’s love doesn’t excuse our wrongdoing. God’s love deals head-on with our wrongdoing, as God’s own son is punished in our place. Jesus Christ - the only human to never sin and to be free of the penalty deserving of sinners - willingly switched places and died for sinners - you and me.

This is how God proved his love for you. In the most staggering, mind-blowing act of self-sacrifice ever demonstrated. Jesus was punished so that we can go free. Jesus died so that instead of receiving justice, you would receive mercy and be restored to enjoy life with God forever.

This good news is described in one of the most famous verses of the Bible:

“For God loved the world in this way; he gave his one and only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 

This is the good news of the Bible. God loves you and offers you eternal life, made possible through his sacrifice. This is the good news for you.

How will you respond to this good news?

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