One thing that has become obvious is that the Good News is synonymous with the kingdom of God/heaven and everything he says about it.
James wasn’t joking when he said faith without works is dead. In John, Jesus said the work required of us is that we believe the Gospel.
This is definitely no Stepford Gospel. But the number one error Jesus confronts is hypocrisy (especially in the form of religiosity)–but note that it is the hypocrisy of being harder on others than you are on yourself. The thing he commands the greatest is mercy (love)–the character of God.
Mercy doesn’t mean calling sin ‘good’–it means loving despite sin. Those who lack mercy the greatest are the ones who receive the harshest judgment–so mercy requires judgment of those who are not merciful, and proper judgment requires mercy. Ironic?
Those who don’t “get it” will be baptized with fire, and he refers to his crucifixion as a sort of baptism–so judgment, though harsh, is actually for our benefit, and so it is an act of mercy. I can vouch for that (for what it’s worth), because it is how he brought me back to himself.
There is a harshness of mercy-fueled judgment that communicates love and will “raise them up on the last day”. Then there is a hypocritical judgment not fueled by mercy at all–it will be thrown into the fire (out of mercy). That’s Good News. ♥
A version of this is cross-posted at CAA.