Why Your Gospel May Be Too Small


November 9, 2020

John 18:1-9 (NIV)

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.

2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.

8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”


It has been said that the Gospels are passion narratives with long introductions. Let’s resist this characterization as it implies the gospel of Jesus Christ can be reduced to three days of his life—that everything that came before was simply preliminary.

The word gospel simply means, “good news.” When we reduce the gospel to the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus we unwittingly reduce the passion of Jesus to a single transactional event. This has the further unintended consequence of reducing salvation to a single transactional experience.  1. Jesus died on the cross for my sins. 2. I accept his gift on my behalf. 3. I am saved. It’s true as far as it goes. It just stops way short of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

How about we frame it a bit larger? What if we thought of the passion of Jesus as the Gospel of Jesus, only the passion of Jesus was far more than three days in world history. What if the passion of Jesus is as old as the Son of God, which is to say, eternal? After all, doesn’t the Bible refer to Jesus as the lamb slain from before the foundation of the world? What if our idea of the gospel is just too small? What if the passion of Jesus doesn’t begin at John 18:1 but John 1:1?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1-2)

I have always been intrigued by Paul’s way of putting it in Romans:

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:10)


Abba Father, thank you for your son, Jesus, whose eternal preexistence, conception, birth, childhood, life, words, deeds, signs, sayings, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension and return are his Passion which are the gospel. Come Holy Spirit and open our hearts and minds to conceive of this in a far deeper way than we have before. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


1. Is your gospel too small?

2. The unchanging nature of salvation is by grace through faith. But what if the scope of salvation is far greater than we have realized?

3. What are the implications of the passion of Jesus being the whole gospel rather than the last few chapters?

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For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

One Response

  1. While I confess, I too once accepted a truncated Gospel, I do so no more. I too have come to realize that the whole Gospel would have to include how Jesus is the fulfillment of all that was written about Him in the Law and Prophets. And how He not only came to save us from our sins, fear of death and the power of Satan; but to inaugurate the kingdom of God here on earth and populate it with a new humanity. I truly believe that we are firstly citizens of heaven and that each local assembly is an outpost of the kingdom.

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