It is not clear who wrote our song “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” It is listed as an African-American spiritual. Its lyrics reflect verses like this from Isaiah 42: “Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth! … let the inhabitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the tops of the mountains.” This is one of many verses in the Bible telling people to share God’s good news everywhere folks may be found. Please give our song a sing-along listen, then lets talk about good news.
The word “gospel”
The English word “gospel” comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word “godspell” which means “glad tidings.” It is translated from the Greek word “evangelion” which means “good message.” (No surprise to learn the Greek word “evangelion” is related to the English word “evangelize”, which can mean “to preach the good news with a view to winning people for the Lord.”)
While the whole Bible is good news, “gospel” is often used more specifically to describe the good news about Jesus Christ, his ministry and about the salvation and new life he opened up for mankind.
Of course, another common use for “gospel” is to refer to the four historical Bible books about Jesus Christ’s life — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The good news proclaimed
The gospel’s good news tells the story of how Jesus Christ brought redemption and salvation to a sad, sick, struggling world of people dead in trespasses and sins. Jesus preached good news and then won more good news through his death, resurrection and ascension.
We might begin the “gospel” story with a huge angelic announcement. The angel Gabriel proclaimed to Zechariah that he would have a son. Sure enough, soon John the Baptist was born. John’s preaching announced the coming of the Messiah. After John baptized Jesus, Jesus continued on “to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free” — to proclaim the good news of God. Jesus preached the kingdom and taught it was time to repent and believe the good news.
When Jesus Christ ascended, the “full” good news — what Jesus Christ taught PLUS what he accomplished — was proclaimed by disciples who had witnessed his life and who had received the gift of holy spirit Jesus promised was coming.
Since those early days of the church, the gospel has continued to be preached by millions who’s lives have been changed by our living Lord and Savior. The entire time since then, Jesus Christ has continued to make himself known through scripture, through holy spirit and through apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers — through many people who minister on his behalf.
That’s a lot of people proclaiming a lot of good news!
The good news of Jesus’ birth
A lot of us have, at times, struggled to bring Jesus into conversations with other people. Our song is about one particular part of the good news — that is, Jesus’ birth. His birth can be a great place to begin a conversation with others about the Lord — especially around Christmas time.
It is always good to fill our minds with a collection of things we can say about the good news. Always remember, we did not write the good news, and we don’t need to defend it. As people who have witnessed the Lord’s goodness for ourselves, it is our joy to declare it. We have had the privilege to hear the good news proclaimed and have our lives changed for the better. Let’s not ever get discouraged by thinking you or I are the last ones on earth that would enjoy hearing and learning the good news for themselves!
Many times we’ll be able to connect with people by telling them what Jesus has done for us. That’s something we are the expert on, and something we can share with joy.
Some mockers might try to discourage us by claiming we just want to stick our noses in other people’s business. They might say we are just going to try to convince them that they are bad, and then try to get them to “be good”.
They have no idea what they are missing.
The bad news they are basing their lives on is much worse than they imagine.
The good news we offer is much better than they know.
One of the best lines I ever heard to keep my own mind and heart on the right track is this:
“Jesus did not come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive.”
A person dead to the Lord and who is getting beat up by this world can easily miss things. People often don’t know they are starving in this life until they smell some good cooking. Let’s have fresh, hot good news — gospel-type good news — on the front burner of our minds and on the tips of our tongues, ready to share with people who would love to have a reason for joy and hope just like we love it.
What a privilege to have so much good news to share. Let’s go tell it on the mountain, over the hills, and everywhere!
God bless you lots!
LYRICS: Go Tell It On The Mountain
Text: John W. Work (1872-1925)
Tune: African-American spiritual
Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills, and ev’rywhere;
Go, tell it on the mountain
that Jesus Christ is born.
1 While shepherds kept their watching
O’er silent flocks by night,
Behold, throughout the heavens
there shone a holy light.
2 The shepherds feared and trembled
When lo, above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
Rhat hailed our Savior’s birth.
3 Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born,
And God sent us salvation
That blessed Christmas morn.
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