One of the catchphrases of the comedy programme “Allo, Allo” was “listen very carefully for I will only say this once.” The Gospel on the other hand calls on us to listen carefully, and to aid us on our way repeats its message over and over.
Hebrews 2 reads in part, “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will (v 1-4).”
This message of “the good news,” of the coming of a savior, not only appears in four different accounts in the Gospels, but in various letters and testimonies as well.
Let us first look at the Gospels. The Hebrews writer remarks that “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles.” John’s gospel in particular focuses on these with a structure based around seven key miracles. From water into wine, to the raising of the dead, God’s power through Jesus is manifest. In fact, John concludes his account thus, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31).”
Later the power of the gospel was shown in Acts 2. As Hebrews cites, “God also testified . . . . by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Acts reads, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ (Acts 2: 4-11).”
These gifts kick-started the fledgling church. Uneducated fishermen, and tax collectors from the backwaters of Galilee changed the world. Their message (in whatever tongue) was simple, “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
Listen carefully, we have been proclaiming it for 2000 years.