“So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” (Romans 1:15)
These words of Paul come right before his enigmatic statement about the Gospel being the power of God for the salvation of all. We rightly pay attention to vss. 16 and 17 but I believe we miss something if we pass over vs. 15. Paul is eager to preach. He wants to get there and tell them something.
In ancient Rome, the empire was tied up with the person of the emperor. When he died, the empire in a sense died with him. Now there was this terrible moment when there was no imperial authority. When this happened, the new emperor would send out his messengers, heralds, to proclaim the new kingdom. They proclaimed the new rule of the new emperor. It was always couched as good news.
When Jesus sends out the apostles and us to preach, he rides on that image. They are announcing a whole new kingdom, a new thing which will affect every part of their hearer’s lives. For the Christian preacher, he gets to proclaim that our lives are under new management, a new paradigm, a new governance. Now the old ways of scale-balancing, score-keeping, and grudge-bearing are over. Our relationship with God has been transformed and our relationships with one another are being transformed.
That makes the preaching of the Gospel a joyful task. I know sometimes there is a lot that can get in the way of seeing that joy. Sometimes it can even feel like a burden to walk into that pulpit. I have felt it too. So today I want to remind all of us, myself included, we have a great privilege. God has sent us out to preach the good news. He could have sent angels, He did not. He sent us. When we were incorporated into the Kingdom of God, we are not relegated to plowing some obscure field in the hinterlands of God’s kingdom. He has placed us right in the center of the most important thing that has ever happened. He has given us to proclaim the good news of the kingdom.