God is Good News
Jesus was Good News
This was the impact of Jesus' life, work, mission and Passion: that long after his death, men like Mark were convinced that Jesus was good news.
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news." This summary suggests a vision and a strategy. Jesus expounded a vision that was good news for people, and he had a strategy for making it real in a manner that was good news too.
Jesus had personal experience of receiving Good News
This vision was given personal, passionate force at the moment of Jesus' baptism. The confirmation that he was the Son of God, God's Beloved, sealed Jesus' understanding of the kingship or sovereignty of God: what it is, how it works, what it is doing, where it is going.
Jesus knew God was good news because God had received him as his Son. It was this experience of being beloved that convinced Jesus that God is gracious, generous and loving, that the Ancient of Days was a careful Shepherd to the flock and a loving Father to the children of Israel. Whether or not Jesus needed to be convinced of this, others certainly needed to hear it.
How well did Jesus know himself? We have little direct evidence to go on, especially in Mark, but there is ample circumstantial evidence from Jesus' ministry that he knew the depth and range of human need: that he knew the lives of ordinary people from the inside out; that as an observant, perceptive, reflective man, he looked into the spring of their joys and the shadow of their sorrows; that as a compassionate man with a passion for justice and freedom, he understood their struggles; and that as a man with a longing for personal fulfilment, who enjoyed the good things in life, he accepted that everyone had their dreams.
Because he had personal experience of it, he was convincing
Whether or not Jesus made a habit of introspection, he was sufficiently aware, engaged and involved to connect with individuals at the point of their greatest and deepest need at that particular moment. Whatever else they wanted, he knew what they wanted more than anything else at that point. Because he knew this, they listened to him. Because he could demonstrate that he knew it, they followed him. And because he showed them how the abundant life of God could meet their need at that point, they had faith in him.
Whatever else we can say about Jesus of Nazareth, he was convincing. He convinced people that he wanted to help them and that he could help them. He convinced people that the promises of God were true and that they could become true for those he met. He convinced people that God was able and willing to meet their deepest or greatest or most urgent need - whatever it was. He convinced them, not least because he knew the shape of that need. He taught them to believe that this was where God would act, and he taught them how to believe - how to act as if this was true.
Because he could see his vision clearly, he could show it to others
His message began with what he himself was able to see. Because he had such a clear vision of the kingdom and how it was good news for him, he was able to see how it was good news for others, too. And he was able to show them. Because he was able to see it so that it fed him, enabled him to show it to others so that it fed them. Because he was able to let this vision fill him, he was able to teach others how the vision of God's rule and reign could fill them and fulfil them, too.
Jesus' imaginative material was drawn from ordinary objects, everyday situations and common experiences; stories retold from the Scriptures; stories of his own; memories he shared with the disciples. He moulded these disparate elements into a body of material to help himself and others imagine the kingdom of God as good news for ordinary people.
Showing it to others was vital - literally, life-giving. human beings are far better at giving out and receiving information visually than verbally. In some respects, we communicate far better - far more quickly, simply, effectively and thoroughly - using visual signals than by using words. Using our senses we can collect a huge amount of information, and many different types of information, simultaneously, and we can scan, sift and process it all so that we can use it as the basis for action: all far faster than we can speak. The process is swift and largely subconscious, and because of this, we are often unaware of how much data we are collecting in any given moment.
Showing people what we want to teach them enables them to form a multi-dimensional record of their experience which they remember and can reflect upon at length, many times over, and over many years. Teaching by this method not only enables a student to learn under our guidance, but to go on learning at their own pace for the rest of their lives. Not only do they internalise the teaching, they internalise the teacher, too. By showing them, we enable them to "see what we are getting at" and take it into themselves in a manner that sets them free to learn more, try out their own ideas, test out their capabilities.
And while we cannot recall every impression, concept or detail that flits through our minds, we do remember those which are constructed as stories. An image can burn itself into our memories; a story can move us to tears.
The importance of language is that it is a way of adding precision to our communication, allowing us to articulate, explain, discuss and define more complex phenomena, experiences and ideas and distinguish between fine shades of meaning. It allows us to express and share a common view of the world and of ourselves within it. And it allows us to tell others what has happened and how we feel about it. Language allows us to