The Gospel then?
( Before Christ's death )
What was the message or gospel of Jesus, and Why was He sent? Let’s allow Him to tell us: "But he said to them, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose." (Luke 4:43)
To What people specifically was Jesus sent to preach this gospel message to? "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24) His message was to be delivered to the Jews ONLY at that time.
So the primary purpose for which Jesus was sent was to preach the Gospel or "Good News" of the Kingdom of God to the Jewish people. He did not come to preach just "some" good news, but something specific: THE good news of the Kingdom of God, the good news that the Kingdom of God is coming! The preaching about the coming Kingdom of God, was –as He Himself said - the very reason He was sent!
Matthew 4:17 verifies very clearly that the Kingdom of God (or Kingdom of heaven) was the start and remained the main subject of Jesus’ teaching: "From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17)
"And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people." (Matthew 4:23)
Jesus was preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Then, in his first recorded teaching, the so-called sermon of the mount, we find Him opening it as follows: "And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:2-3)
"Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God". (Luke 8:1)
"To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:59-60)
The phrases "kingdom of God" and its synonym "kingdom of heaven" occur in total 84 times in the gospels. The Kingdom of God was the main subject of the teaching of the Master. So guess what: what He mainly spoke about and which is recorded in the gospels is about the kingdom of God – Jesus’ main subject and mission.
The message of Jesus was about the good news of the Kingdom of God and how to enter into it. Is not the entering into the Kingdom of God the main goal for you and I? If yes, let us pay attention to what the specialist on the matter, the King Himself says about it, instead of making the grave error of essentially putting Him aside as not relevant to us.
What was Jesus speaking about with His disciples after He was raised from the dead and until His ascension: "He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God." (Acts 1:3)
The Kingdom of God was not something that Jesus was teaching only before His crucifixion or just a topic among many others. In contrast it was chief topic, THE chief topic of His ministry. He was preaching about it before the crucifixion and continued to speak about it after the resurrection too, all the way up to the time of his ascension.
Now what did the disciples do after the ascension? Was there a change of policy? Again the book of Acts gives us the answer: "But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." (Acts 8:12)
Paul and Barnabas, preached about the Kingdom of God and how to enter it: "When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:21-22)
Paul again, this time in Ephesus: "And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God." (Acts 19:8)
Paul, now in Rome, under arrest: "When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets." (Acts 28:23)
And the book of Acts closes as follows, referring to Paul: "He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance." (Acts 28:30-31)
To summarize: the Kingdom of God was the purpose that Jesus was sent. He preached about it all the time, all the way up to His ascension. Then the apostles took over and did the same. Paul preached about the Kingdom of God proclaiming it all the way till the end of his life. The same did Philip and I am sure all the others too. We see therefore that the message did not vary: both Jesus and His apostles were preaching about the Kingdom of God.