The Blessings of the Good News
“Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, . . . to comfort all the mourning ones.”—ISAIAH 61:1, 2.
1, 2. (a) What did Jesus reveal himself to be, and how? (b) What blessings did the good news announced by Jesus bring?
ONE Sabbath day early in his ministry, Jesus was in the synagogue in Nazareth. According to the record, “the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed him, and he opened the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news.’” Jesus went on to read more of the prophetic passage. Then he sat down and said: “Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.”—Luke 4:16-21.
2 In this way, Jesus identified himself as the prophesied evangelizer, the teller of good news and bearer of comfort. (Matthew 4:23) And what good news Jesus had to tell! He informed his hearers: “I am the light of the world. He that follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.” (John 8:12) He also said: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32) Yes, Jesus had “sayings of everlasting life.” (John 6:68, 69) Light, life, freedom—surely these are blessings to be treasured!
3. What good news did Jesus’ disciples preach?
3 After Pentecost 33 C.E., the disciples continued Jesus’ work of evangelizing. They preached the “good news of the kingdom” both to Israelites and to people of the nations. (Matthew 24:14; Acts 15:7; Romans 1:16) Those who responded came to know Jehovah God. They were liberated from religious enslavement and became part of the new spiritual nation, “the Israel of God,” whose members have the prospect of ruling forever in heaven with their Lord, Jesus Christ. (Galatians 5:1; 6:16; Ephesians 3:5-7; Colossians 1:4, 5; Revelation 22:5) Those were rich blessings indeed!
4. In what way is the commission to preach the good news being fulfilled today?
4 Today, anointed Christians, supported by a growing “great crowd” of “other sheep,” continue to fulfill the prophetic commission originally given to Jesus. (Revelation 7:9; John 10:16) As a result, the good news is being preached on a scale never before seen. In 235 lands and territories, Jehovah’s Witnesses have gone out “to tell good news to the meek ones . . . , to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening of the eyes even to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah and the day of vengeance on the part of our God; to comfort all the mourning ones.” (Isaiah 61:1, 2) Hence, the Christian evangelizing work continues to bring blessings to many and genuine comfort to “those in any sort of tribulation.”—2 Corinthians 1:3, 4.
5. Regarding the preaching of the good news, how are Jehovah’s Witnesses different from the churches of Christendom?
5 It is true that the churches of Christendom sponsor forms of evangelism. Many send out missionaries to make proselytes in other lands. For example, The Orthodox Christian Mission Center Magazine reports on the activity of Orthodox missionaries in Madagascar, southern Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. However, in the Orthodox Church, as in the other churches of Christendom, the vast majority of the members have no share in such work. In contrast, all dedicated Witnesses of Jehovah endeavor to share in evangelizing. They realize that proclaiming the good news is an evidence of the genuineness of their faith. Paul said: “With the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” Faith that does not move one to action is, in effect, dead.—Romans 10:10; James 2:17.
Good News That Brings Eternal Blessings
6. What good news is being preached today?
6 Jehovah’s Witnesses preach the best news possible. They open their Bibles and show receptive ones that Jesus sacrificed his life to give mankind a way of approach to God, forgiveness of sins, and the hope of everlasting life. (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19) They announce that God’s Kingdom has been established in heaven under the anointed King, Jesus Christ, and that soon it will remove wickedness from the earth and oversee the restoration of Paradise. (Revelation 11:15; 21:3, 4) In fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, they inform their neighbors that now is “the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah” when mankind can still respond to the good news. They also warn that soon will come “the day of vengeance on the part of our God” when Jehovah will bring an end to unrepentant wrongdoers.—Psalm 37:9-11.
7. What experience demonstrates the unity of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and why do they enjoy such unity?
7 In a world beset by tragedy and disaster, this is the only good news with eternal benefits. Those who accept it become part of a united, worldwide brotherhood of Christians who do not allow national, tribal, or economic differences to divide them. They have ‘clothed themselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.’ (Colossians 3:14; John 15:12) This was seen last year in a certain African country. One morning the capital city was awakened by gunfire. An attempted coup d’état was in progress. When events took an ethnic turn, a Witness family was criticized for sheltering fellow Witnesses of a different ethnic group. The family replied: “We have only Jehovah’s Witnesses staying in our house.” To them, ethnic differences were not important; Christian love—giving comfort to those in need—was. A non-Witness relative commented: “Members of all religions betrayed their fellow worshipers. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses did not.” Many similar incidents reported from lands torn apart by civil conflict show that Jehovah’s Witnesses truly “have love for the whole association of brothers.”—1 Peter 2:17.
The Good News Changes People
8, 9. (a) What changes do those who accept the good news make? (b) What experiences illustrate the power of the good news?
8 The good news has to do with what Paul called “the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) It not only offers a wonderful, sure hope for the future but also brings improvements to “the life now.” As individuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses are guided by God’s Word, the Bible, to bring their lives into harmony with God’s will. (Psalm 119:101) Their very personalities are made new as they cultivate such qualities as righteousness and loyalty.—Ephesians 4:24.
9 Consider the example of Franco. He had a problem with anger. Whenever things went wrong, he flew into a violent rage and broke things. His wife studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and their Christian example gradually helped Franco to see that he had to change. He studied the Bible with them and was finally able to manifest the holy spirit’s fruits of peace and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23) He was one of the 492 baptized in Belgium during the 2001 service year. Consider, too, Alejandro. That young man became so addicted to drugs that he sank to the point of living on a garbage dump, salvaging what he could to sell in order to support his drug habit. When he was 22 years old, Jehovah’s Witnesses invited Alejandro to study the Bible, and he agreed. He read the Bible every day and attended Christian meetings. He cleaned up his life so quickly that in less than six months, he was able to share in the evangelizing work—one of the 10,115 to do so last year in Panama.
The Good News—A Blessing to the Meek
10. Who respond to the good news, and how does their outlook change?
10 Isaiah prophesied that the good news would be preached to the meek ones. Who are these meek ones? They are those described in the book of Acts as “rightly disposed for everlasting life.” (Acts 13:48) They are humble individuals found in all sectors of society who open their hearts to the message of truth. Such ones learn that doing God’s will brings blessings that are far richer than anything the secular world offers. (1 John 2:15-17) How, though, do Jehovah’s Witnesses reach hearts in their evangelizing work?
11. According to Paul, how should the good news be preached?
11 Well, consider the example of the apostle Paul, who wrote to the Corinthians: “I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come with an extravagance of speech or of wisdom declaring the sacred secret of God to you. For I decided not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and him impaled.” (1 Corinthians 2:1, 2) Paul did not try to impress his hearers with his learning. He taught nothing but divinely assured facts, facts that today are recorded in the Bible. Notice, too, Paul’s encouragement to his fellow evangelizer Timothy: “Preach the word, be at it urgently.” (2 Timothy 4:2) Timothy was to preach “the word,” God’s message. Paul also wrote to Timothy: “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.”—2 Timothy 2:15.
12. How do Jehovah’s Witnesses today heed Paul’s words and example?
12 Jehovah’s Witnesses heed Paul’s example, as well as his words to Timothy. They recognize the power of God’s Word and make good use of it as they seek to show their neighbors appropriate words of hope and comfort. (Psalm 119:52; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Hebrews 4:12) True, they make good use of Bible literature so that interested ones can gain more Bible knowledge at their leisure. But they always seek to show people words of Scripture. They know that God’s inspired Word will move the hearts of humble ones. And using it in this way strengthens their own faith too.
“Comfort All the Mourning Ones”
13. In the year 2001, what events gave rise to a widespread need for giving comfort to mourning ones?
13 The year 2001 had its share of disasters, and as a result, many individuals were in need of comfort. Last September saw an outstanding example in the United States, with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. What a shock those attacks were for the whole country! In the face of such events, Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to fulfill their commission to offer ‘comfort to all the mourning ones.’ A few experiences will illustrate how they do this.
14, 15. How were Witnesses on two different occasions able to use scriptures effectively to comfort mourning ones?
14 A Witness who is a full-time evangelizer approached a lady on the sidewalk and asked what she thought about the recent terrorist attacks. The lady began to weep. She said that she felt bad and wished she could somehow help. The Witness told her that God is very much interested in us all, and she read Isaiah 61:1, 2. These divinely inspired words made sense to the lady, who said that everyone was in mourning. She accepted a tract and asked the Witness to visit her in her home.
15 Two Witnesses who were engaged in the work of evangelizing met a man working in his shed. They offered to show him words of comfort from the Scriptures in view of the recent tragedy at the World Trade Center. With his consent they read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, which includes the words: “Comfort . . . abounds through the Christ.” The man appreciated that his Witness neighbors were sharing something comforting with others and said: “May God bless the wonderful work that you are doing.”
16, 17. What two experiences demonstrate the power of the Bible to help individuals who are saddened or disturbed by tragedies?
16 A Witness calling back on interested people met the son of a woman who had previously shown interest and explained that he was concerned about how the neighbors were doing after the recent tragedy. The man was amazed that the Witness had taken his own time to visit people and check on them. He said that he was working quite close to the World Trade Center when the attack occurred and saw the entire event unfold. When he asked why God permits suffering, the Witness read verses from the Bible, including Psalm 37:39, which says: “The salvation of the righteous ones is from Jehovah; he is their fortress in the time of distress.” The man kindly asked how the Witness and his family were doing, invited him to return, and expressed heartfelt appreciation for the visit.
17 Another of the thousands of mourning ones comforted by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the days following the terrorist attacks was a lady whom the Witnesses met while they were visiting their neighbors. She was extremely upset by what had happened and listened as they read Psalm 72:12-14: “He will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul, and their blood will be precious in his eyes.” How meaningful those words were! The lady asked the Witnesses to read the verses again and invited them into her house to continue the discussion. By the end of the conversation, a Bible study was under way.
18. How did a Witness help his neighbors when he was invited to pray in their behalf?
18 One Witness works in a restaurant in a rather affluent community where people have not previously shown much interest in the good news of the Kingdom. After the terrorist attacks, the community appeared shaken. On the Friday evening after the attack, the manager of the restaurant invited everyone to go outside and hold candles, observing a moment of quiet reflection in memory of the victims. Respectful of their feelings, the Witness went out and stood silently on the sidewalk. The manager knew that he was a minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses, so after the period of reflection, she asked him to represent everyone in prayer. The Witness consented. In his prayer, he mentioned the widespread mourning but said that the mourners need not grieve without hope. He spoke of the time when such terrible events would no longer happen and said that all could draw closer to the God of comfort through accurate knowledge from the Bible. After saying “Amen,” the manager—followed by the more than 60 people who were outside the restaurant—came up to the Witness, thanked him, and hugged him, remarking that the prayer was the best she had ever heard.
A Blessing to the Community
19. What experience demonstrates that some recognize the high standards of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
19 In these days especially, communities where Jehovah’s Witnesses are active benefit from their presence—as many have remarked. How could a people who promote peace, honesty, and clean morals not be a force for good? In one Central Asian country, Witnesses met a retired officer of the former state security agency. He said that he was once assigned to investigate various religious organizations. When he looked into Jehovah’s Witnesses, he was impressed by their honesty and good conduct. He admired their firm faith and the fact that their teachings are based on the Scriptures. This man agreed to a Bible study.
20. (a) What does the activity reported by Jehovah’s Witnesses last year show? (b) What indicates that there is much more work to do, and how do we view our privilege of evangelizing?
20 From the few experiences related in this article, out of the thousands that could be related, it is clear that Jehovah’s Witnesses were very busy during the 2001 service year.* They spoke with millions of people, they comforted many who mourned, and their evangelizing work was blessed. There were 263,431 who symbolized their dedication to God by getting baptized. Worldwide, the number of evangelizers increased by 1.7 percent. And the fact that 15,374,986 attended the annual Memorial of Jesus’ death indicates that there is much more work to do. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) May we continue to seek out meek ones who respond to the good news. And as long as Jehovah’s year of goodwill continues, may we continue to comfort “the brokenhearted.” What a blessed privilege we have! Surely all of us echo Isaiah’s words: “Without fail I shall exult in Jehovah. My soul will be joyful in my God.” (Isaiah 61:10) May God continue to use us as he fulfills these prophetic words: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will cause the sprouting of righteousness and of praise in front of all the nations.”—Isaiah 61:11.
The chart on pages 19 to 22 gives the report of the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses during the 2001 service year.
Do You Remember?
• How were the meek ones blessed by the good news that Jesus preached?
• What blessings came to those who responded to the evangelizing work of Jesus’ first-century disciples?
• How have receptive ones today been blessed by the good news?
• How do we view our privilege of being evangelizers?
[Chart on page 19-22]
2001 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)
[Pictures on page 15]
Jehovah’s Witnesses always remember their responsibility to evangelize
[Pictures on page 17]
Those who respond to the good news become part of a united, worldwide brotherhood