It just seems that a day doesn’t go by that we don’t hear about breaking news. Whether it is the cable news on television, a report on the radio, or an alert on your smartphone, our lives are interrupted by some kind of breaking news. Breaking news is an old concept, codified by the Associated Press in 1906 when the wire wanted to designate “news of transcendent importance.” The AP used the term “FLASH.” Other news-breakers used “bulletin,” “alert.” Regardless of the term used, the news interrupts the present moment.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus begins his ministry with breaking news. In Mark 1:14-15 we read, “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” When Jesus stepped onto the scene, he came bringing news that interrupted the daily narrative of the world. The narrative prior to Jesus was one of a broken world. Since the beginning, when sin entered the picture, the story of creation was one of sinfulness and death. It wasn’t that people were not happy, but there was a deeper brokenness beneath the surface of people’s lives. This brokenness had affected every part of creation: creation’s relationship to God and humanity’s relationship to one another. The good news of God’s original creation had been shattered by human sin. That was the story of the day.
Jesus called the people to repent and believe in the good news. Jesus’ call to repent was an invitation for us to turn away from our sin and back to God. Sin in its essence pulls us away from God and in a different direction than God desires. The words from the classic hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, echo this truth in its lyrics, “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” We seem to simply be bent towards sin. Repentance is bending ourselves back in the right direction. While we must choose to allow this turning to take place, we cannot make that change without God’s grace. Knowing that we are accepted by God even in our sin, allows this turning to occur. Thus, we don’t have to run away from God, but we can run towards God.
This is why Jesus called us to also believe in this good news. Jesus came offering a narrative for our lives, not written in sin, but in grace; grace which accepts us, restores us, and loves us. This news shatters the previous headlines that dominated the world news. We who are prone to wander can return to God. Each of us as prodigal children can come home. We simply have to decide to return. This is the breaking news that can change us forever. May we not only hear it, but may we receive it. And in receiving this good news, we can live a new story. That’s breaking news.