The Gospel in Four Words
Updated: Feb 2, 2018
In John 12:27-28, Jesus sums the entire Gospel up for us in just four words. Jesus communicates this message after he has just arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey to people shouting, “Hosanna!” He has come to Jerusalem to die, and it is in this context that Jesus gives us the Gospel. Here’s what he says in verse 27,
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.
We know from the Old Testament that Jesus could have called on a legion of angels to come down and destroy this place. So he asks the question, “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?” But that is not the reason he has come to this hour of suffering and death. He says, “But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” So what is the purpose this hour of suffering and death? Surely he will speak of our salvation or rescue. Here’s what he says in verse 28:
“Father, glorify your Name.”
This is the gospel in 4 words! You may be thinking, “But it doesn’t say anything about our sin, our salvation, the cross and resurrection or eternal life.” You would be right, except that these four words speak of all those things. To capture the weight of this prayer, you have to go all the way back to Genesis. In Genesis 12, God calls Abram to leave everything he has ever known and go to a land to be shown to him later. Then God makes this promise:
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God makes a promise on his own name to Abram. God has to keep this promise, and if he does not then he is not a good God nor a trustworthy God. He is a liar and unfaithful if He does not keep this. Do you feel the weight of this promise? His honor, character and name are tied to this promise. This promise is the gospel. Paul says in Galatians 3:8, “And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’” God has promised on his own name to bless Abram (Abraham), his family and all peoples, and the means by which he fulfills his promise is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Paul says later in Galatians 3:13-14:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might received the promised Spirit through faith.”
In order for us to receive the promised blessing given to Abraham, Jesus had to get on that gruesome, bloody cross and die. He had to take our curse. But don’t miss the bigger picture here. In order for God to keep his name and honor, which are tied to the promise, Jesus had to die. Without Jesus’ blood, we are hopelessly lost and cut off and there is no blessing for us making God unfaithful. When Jesus prays, “Father, glorify your name,” he is saying, “Father, fulfill your promise. Honor your word. Show the world that your name is holy and true,” and at the same time he is saying, “Father, bless the nations. Forgive and rescue them. Bring your salvation to all peoples.”
At the end of the day, the gospel has nothing to do with you and at the same time it has everything to do with you. God loves God more than anything, and that is good news for us because he actually cares about his name and keeps his promise. Jesus, who is both God and man, had to be obedient to all commands, right? So check this out: Jesus had to obey the greatest commandment to love the Lord (himself) with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. He also had to be obedient to the second greatest commandment to love his neighbor (us) as himself. Are you kidding me?! I get loving himself fully because he is holy and perfect and amazing, but loving you and I the same way he loves himself is just scandalous. Wow! He is a glorious and good God, and he deserves our praise and the praise of all peoples.
So here’s a challenge for you: take some time this week to just absorb the fullness of His glorious gospel (preach to yourself), and then take some time to share this amazing news with someone else (preach to others).