Romans 1:1-4 “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God– the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.”
We are familiar with the many, many details of the good news about Jesus we find promised by the prophets in the Old Testament. The manner of his conception, the place of his birth, the threats to his early life, the place of his boyhood, the message of his ministry, the kinds of miracles he would perform, all the minute details of his trial, suffering and death– all of this was prophesied hundreds and even thousands of years before Jesus’ came.
Even his resurrection was promised by those prophets. Isaiah wrote, “…though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul he will see the light of life and be satisfied.” People were looking forward to Jesus’ resurrection centuries before he lived or died.
But how do the prophets’ words contribute to making the message about Jesus “good news”? Why is this a notable feature of the gospel we hear and share? It inspires confidence in that message, doesn’t it? We live in a culture that glorifies the new and trendy as much or more than people in any other era. People are constantly running after new styles in clothing, furniture, food, or recreation. I’ll admit that I’m not sure whether the trendy clothes today are the ones that fit so tightly you can hardly breath or fit so loosely you have to hold on with both hands to keep them from falling off. But the trends constantly change, and we want to keep up.
At the same time, there are still areas in which we prefer tried and true to new and improved. If you are going to invest money for the future, there are fortunes to be made investing in some start-up technology company or cryptocurrency. There are also fortunes to be lost that way. If someone knocks on your door, are you more likely to open the door for the old friend you’ve known for years or the stranger you’ve never seen before?
Isn’t our eternal welfare and relationship with God something we want to keep in the “safe” area rather than the “trendy” one? Isn’t that one of the effects that the promises of the Old Testament prophets have upon the gospel about Jesus? The good news about Jesus had a long history behind it. Prophets had been talking about it for centuries. He’s like the old friend who shows up at the door and we already know him, so he can come in. He’s like a company with a proven track record that we can trust with our treasure. By speaking through his prophets, God has given us a gospel we can trust.