The good news of Jesus is compared to a government, possibly a king, declaring amnesty to those who have committed a crime against the state. The question is whether or not the picture of amnesty is the best picture to paint.
Good paintings tell stories.
Think of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. It tells the story of Jesus and his disciples sitting down for the final meal before the crucifixion. Jesus would drink the Passover cup before being sacrificed as the Passover lamb.
The good news of Jesus is more than a story. But it’s not less. It is the most important story on the planet. And it is the truest of true stories. Many have attempted to paint pictures that rightly tell the story of the gospel. Sometimes these paintings are painted with words, instead of paint and a canvas.
These gospel paintings are often necessary because the gospel must be explained. It is a message made up of propositional truth. That means it must be understood. John Piper writes, “the gospel is not only news. It is first news, and then it is doctrine. Doctrine means teaching, explaining, clarifying. Doctrine is part of the gospel because news can’t be just declared by the mouth of a herald—it has to be understood in the mind of the hearer” (Piper, God is the Gospel, 21).
In order for hearers to understand the gospel, a number of different word pictures have been painted. Some compare the gospel to paying your speeding ticket or serving your prison sentence. Like creation itself, the word-pictures available are gloriously endless.
One such picture is that of amnesty. The good news of Jesus is compared to a government, possibly a king, declaring amnesty to those who have committed a crime against the state. The question is whether or not the picture of amnesty is the best picture to paint.
According to Merriam-Webster, amnesty is defined as “a decision that a group of people will not be punished or that a group of prisoners will be allowed to go free.” Most often this term is applied when the group declaring amnesty is a form of government. So, Merriam-Webster offers a second definition: “the act of an authority (as a government) by which pardon is granted to a large group of individuals.” The government forgets the crime and offers absolution.