I want you to take a moment and imagine something with me.
Imagine there is a young man who, as he gets into his late teens, finds himself increasingly at odds with his father. Eventually, he rebels against his father, discards all of the godly advice and wisdom he’s been given, severs the relationship, and walks out.
He ends up living a depraved and immoral life and each day he sinks lower and lower, straying further and further from all moral and civil restraint. One day he finally hits rock bottom and finds himself at the end of his rope.
That’s when he realizes he has made a Grade A mess of his life.
Meanwhile, the father learns of his son’s condition, and his heart is moved with compassion for his lost son. Finding out where the son is living, he sends a friend with this message: “Come home. All is forgiven. I love you.”
So the friend takes the message and as he travels to where the son is living, he begins to develop a self-righteous and judgmental attitude. He just can’t believe how the son has lived such a wretched life.
After a few days of travel the friend finally finds the lost son, but he has somewhat modified the message from the father. It sounds something like this:
“You worthless piece of trash. You don’t deserve your father’s goodness; and, frankly, I hope he smashes you to powder for your sins. And, oh yeah: it’s time to come home.”
How do you think the son responds? I think he is probably thinking, “No, thanks! I don’t want to go home to that!”
If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve come across those who seem to think that the Gospel is bad news by the way it was presented. But, my friend, it is the Good News that God was personally present in Christ, not counting up our trespasses against us, but canceling them and nailing them to the cross.
Yes! The Gospel is GOOD NEWS! Amazing news!
It’s like the son I once read about who—like the one above—threw off all restraint, left home, and lived a wretched life. But one day he came to his senses and wrote to his parents asking for forgiveness.
In his letter he also asked if he could come home. He told them the day he would be on the train, and he asked them to place a ribbon on the big oak tree by the station if it was okay for him to come home. If there was no ribbon, he would just stay on the train.
As the train approached the station the gentleman sitting across from the young man noticed that he was really troubled and nervous, so he said, “Young man, is something bothering you? Can I help you with anything?” And the young man just poured out his heart and told him everything he’d done and the hurtful things he’d said to his family.
He then told the man the story of how he had asked them to put a ribbon on the tree, and he said, “I just can’t bear to look. If there’s not anything there, I don’t know what I’m going to do!” The gentleman said, “I’ll tell you what. You just go ahead and keep your head down. I’ll look for you, and I’ll tell you if you need to look up.”
When they got closer the gentleman got out of his seat and shook the young man. He told him, “You need to look.” So the young man looked up and saw that the tree was covered with ribbons and bows. Every branch, every twig had a ribbon on it, saying, “Come home. All is forgiven. You’re loved.”
It was on a tree called Calvary that God declared through the death of Christ, “Come home. All is forgiven. I love you.”
This is the Good News… the best news! And it’s the news we proclaim through every Answers broadcast. The Good News that our broken and hurting world so desperately needs to hear!