Imagine ancient Rome more than two millennia ago during civil war, and the word that came to Octavian’s followers. “‘Good news! Octavian Caesar has won a great victory!’ This is good news about something that has just happened.”
Rome “was poised between the news about something that had happened--his decisive victory--and the expectation of something that would soon happen, namely his return in triumph. That is what news does: it creates a new period of time. ... And your life, right now, would be different as a result. Something has happened; something therefore will happen. And the way things are right now is different as a result.”
For Biblical scholar N.T. Wright, the gospel, the Easter story, is, infinitely more powerfully, “Simply Good News” ($24.99 in hardcover from HarperOne; also for Amazon Kindle). Subtitled “Why The Gospel Is News And What Makes It Good,” the book notes that “The good news that Jesus announced, like the good news that his first followers announced about him, was not a piece of advice, however good. It was about something that had happened, about something that would happen as a result, and about the new moment between those two, the moment in which people were in fact living, whether they realized it or not.”
What is this news? “That the one true God has now taken charge of the world, in and through Jesus and his death and resurrection. The ancient hopes have indeed been fulfilled, but in a way nobody imagined. ... Life has come to life and is pouring out like a mighty river into the world, in the form of a new power, the power of love. ... One day it will happen, completely and utterly, to all creation; and we humans, every single one of us, whoever we are, can be caught up in that transformation here and now. This is the Christian gospel.”
Though Wright deals with the distortions of the Easter message grown up over the centuries, outside the church and within, ultimately his insightful and compelling account is a humbling story about the God who humbled himself to give us all the best news possible.