“The News About Jesus” (Matthew 4:24-25 sermon)

Last Wednesday I got an email from one of our members: “Did you hear the news about Bob Stoops?” The head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners — my favorite college football team — had suddenly and surprisingly announced his retirement and passed on the reins of the team to his young offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. It was big news, not only in Oklahoma, but also all over the country.

“Did you hear the news?” That applies to all kinds of things. Every day there are new headlines that might cause us to say “Did you hear the news?” In the first century, although they didn’t have the media that we do today (and that might be somewhat of a blessing …) they still had news. Matthew 4:24 says that “the news about (Jesus) spread” throughout the whole area. What was “the news about Jesus”? The news that went about that day is STILL big news today. It is life-changing — more than that, it is eternity changing! What do these verses tell us that the “news” is about Jesus?

 

 

I. A King with Power over all

:24 says as the news spread about Jesus, that “they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.”
— they brought to Him people with illnesses; He healed them
— they brought to Him people with pains; He healed them
— they brought to Him people who were possessed by demons; He cast them out
— they brought to Him paralyzed people; He raised them up.
These episodes demonstrated that Jesus has power over everything.
NOTHING they brought to Jesus was He unable to heal. There is no recorded example in the scripture, of a time they brought someone to Jesus, but He had no ability to heal them. Never was there a demon He could not cast out. He is the King with power over ALL.

In fact, it is not only here, but all through the Book of Matthew, God shows us Jesus’ ultimate power:

— After He finished the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 8 Jesus comes down from the mountain, and :2 says a leper came to Him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.” Verse 3 says Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said, “I am willing, be cleansed.” And He healed that leprous man! It showed that Jesus had power over even the most feared disease of their day, leprosy..

— Then starting in :5, in the next verses, Jesus heals the centurion’s servant, NOT by coming there to him, but just by speaking the word, demonstrating that He had power over time and space.

— Then after these episodes, in :23, they got into a boat on the Sea of Galilee, and “a great storm” arose” and the boat was covered with the waves, and the disciples cried out, and Jesus got up and spoke to sea and “it became perfectly calm” (:26) — showing that He has power over the weather and creation.

— Then right after they landed, :28 says that two demon-possessed men meet Him, and challenged Him, and Jesus cast them out into a herd of pigs, demonstrating that He has power even over demons and Satanic power.

The message of Matthew is clear: The news is that The King has come to our world, who has power over every area of reality: sickness and death and time and space and creation and the weather and the spiritual powers — every area of reality is under the power of Jesus Christ!

Too often we are guilty of portraying God almost as a pathetic creature, sitting up in heaven, “wringing His hands” over what we humans are doing down here on earth. We need to look back to the word of God, which tells us in no uncertain terms that there is no such pathetic creature sitting in God’s heaven. There is only A King reigning on His throne. We need the message of Psalm 2 again:
“Why are the nations in an uproar, and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand, and their rulers take counsel together against the LORD, and against His Christ, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart; and let us cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger, and terrify them in His fury”!
God’s not “wringing His hands” at the rebellions of man; He reigns from heaven — and one day every rebel will be terrified at His fury!

We do live in a messed-up world; a world that God created as good, but which WE have messed up by our choice to sin. There is a lot of evil in our world, and so many people just live in fear of what is going on:
— they are afraid of ISIS and terror from the outside
— they are afraid of crime and violence from inside
— they are afraid of the nuclear threat of Russia or North Korea
— some are afraid of the national debt, others are afraid of domestic rioting and violence
— some are afraid of the liberal Democrats; others are afraid of President Trump
— some just live in fear of cancer, or sickness or old age or fear of death

But Jesus told us in Matthew 10, “Do not fear those who kill the body … Fear HIM who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
— Kim Jong Un is not worthy of your fear
— Vladimir Putin is not worthy of your fear
— no foreign threat is worthy of your fear
— Donald Trump is not worthy of your fear
— the liberals are not worthy of your fear
— cancer is not worthy of your fear
— death is not worthy of your fear
There is ONE whom you should fear. “The News” is that a King has come to this world, and His name is Jesus Christ.

— Matthew tells us He is the King with power over every area of reality
— Ephesians 1 says “God gave Him as head over ALL things to the church …”
— Colossians 2:10 says “He is the head over ALL rule and authority.”
— Hebrews 1:3 says He “upholds ALL things by the word of His power.”
— Philippians 2 that His is “the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
— Revelation 19 says this King is coming back to this world, “His eyes a flame of fire, and on His head many crowns … the armies of heaven … following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron, and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe, and on His thigh, He has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS”!

The news is, a King is coming — and He HAS come — a King with power over every area of reality. We would do well to heed the wisdom of Psalm 2: “Show discernment …. take warning … worship (this King) with reverence”! Bow your knee to Him now, while you can, and claim this King Jesus as YOUR own Savior & King.

 

 

II. A King with Love for all

:24 says “they brought to Him ALL who were ill … and He healed them … and large crowds followed Him.

Everyone they brought to Jesus here, He healed. There is not a record in the New Testament of one who came to Him, but whom He was not willing to accept. (Now some not willing to accept the term of His Lordship, like the Rich Young Ruler) But Jesus will accept any who come sincerely to bow before Him as their King. He loves all, and will accept all who come to Him.

This last spring I noticed that there were a lot of posts on Facebook where high school seniors were posting pictures of their acceptance letter to college. I had never noticed that as much before I did this year — maybe because we have so many graduating from our church and going on to college. But that is a big deal — being accepted into college — because not everyone just automatically gets in. You have to have a certain grade point average; you have to have a certain test score; you have to meet certain other qualifications; and pay certain fees. Not every gets accepted into college.

And here’s the thing: SOME people look at heaven that way. They think they have to “earn” a certain “score” from God to get into heaven. This is what religion is to most people isn’t it: it’s what virtually ALL the religions of the world are all about: say enough prayers, give enough money, do enough good deeds — and you will have a “good enough score” to get into heaven.

The problem with that is, according to the Bible, NONE of us are good enough to be accepted into heaven. The Bible teaches very clearly: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “All our righteousness is filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6) “By the works of the Law, NO flesh will be justified in His sight.” (Romans 3:20).

But the good news is, that this King, Jesus, came down from heaven, NOT to condemn us, and judge us, like we deserve, but because He loved us ALL. And this King humbled Himself, and died naked on a cross, bearing our sins in His body, so that our sins could be forgiven, if we would turn back from our rebellion against Him and receive Him back as our King and our God.
So the bottom line is that as opposed to all the other religions of the world, Christianity is NOT about us trying to be good enough to “earn a good score” to get into heaven; it is that JESUS already made the perfect score FOR us; HE paid the price; HE bought the ticket for each of us to get into heaven. We just each have to receive what He did for us, by turning back from our sins, to follow Him as our Savior and our King, and we will be saved.

A pastor friend of mine (Joe McKeever) did a funeral a number of years ago in which he stood up and said, “Mr. Goodlett was a plain-spoken man. He did not want a pastor to stand up here and say lies about him. So, I’m going to tell you the truth. Mr. Goodlett was not good enough to get into Heaven.” (pause) “But fortunately, being good enough is not how anyone gets into Heaven. The door to heaven is Jesus Christ.” That Mr. Goodlett is in Heaven today, not because he was good, but because Jesus loved him and died for him, and he accepted Him as His King & Savior.

The Bible tells us that Jesus will save every person who comes to Him admitting their sin and bowing before Him as their King & Savior. Jesus said:
— “the one who comes to Me, I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)
— “Come to Me all who labor … I WILL give you rest.”
— “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13)
— “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

If you have been going the wrong way, but you are willing to turn around and come back to Jesus as your Lord & Savior & King, He will NOT turn you away. He WILL receive you.

The news about Jesus is that He is a King who has a love for ALL, and He will save ALL who sincerely come to Him.

 

 

III. A King Whose Message Must Go To All

Because of Who Jesus was, and what He was doing, the Bible says in :24 that “the news about Him spread throughout all Syria.” Jesus was presently ministering in Galilee, but the news traveled to Syria, a country north of there. Verse 25 says crowds followed Him “from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.” The news about Jesus went out everywhere — and that is how it MUST be! Because of Who Jesus is, and because of what He has done for us, His message MUST be spread to all peoples!

In fact, Jesus commands those who are His followers to spread the message:
— He said in Matthew 28:18-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
— He said in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
— He said in Luke 24:47 that “repentance for forgiveness of sins (is to) be proclaimed in His name to all the nations.”
— He said in John 20:21 “As the Father has sent Me, so sent I you.”
Every one of the four gospels ends with a command from Jesus to spread the news.

This is a news that has to be spread! There is a King of this universe, with ultimate power over every area of reality, but He LOVES YOU and has paid the price to forgive you, if you will just turn back to Him! That’s the best news — and everyone in our world needs to hear it. The problem is, many have not heard it yet.

Eric Metaxas interviewed a man on his show a couple of weeks ago (Gordon Robertson, son of Pat Robertson) who is now in the ministry, but he shared the testimony of how a few years ago, while he was still a lawyer, he was asked to go on a mission trip to India. While he was there, he went out late one night to watch a festival that many of the Hindus were participating in. He said for first time in my life, I saw a human being offer a sacrifice to an idol. He said, it doesn’t impact you the same on a picture or on tv, as it does to actually view it in real life: a real person (a woman in this case) offering some fruit and some incense to a stone idol of a cow. And then she bowed down to it. He said I just stood there in disbelief at this foolishness — but then he said he heard a voice speaking from behind him: “No one has told her.” He said he still gets chills down his spine to this day when he shares that story, for that moment, God called him to ministry — and showed him that he needed to be part of telling others who have never heard, the good news about Jesus.

King Jesus came to set us free from demons, free from endless sacrifices, free from trying to be good enough on our own merits to go to heaven, free from our sin, free from our worst selves. And He will set free whoever will come to Him. BUT WE HAVE TO SHARE THAT MESSAGE! The news spreads when people share it. How do you think “the news about Him spread” through all Syria and all those other places? Because people TOLD other people about Him. And that’s what we have to do too. We’ve got to spread the message of the King all over our world. And you don’t have to be called to the ministry to tell people about Jesus. Every disciple of Jesus is called to spread the message of the King. We are to start right where we are, and take that message to the ends of the earth.

We saw Wednesday night where Jesus commanded us in Acts 1:8 to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. We can apply that to our church as Jerusalem being right here in our own church field, the area right around us. Our Judea is a little farther out — our state, our county. Our “Samaria”, as we saw Wednesday night, are sister states. And of course, “the ends of the earth” are other nations.

We are called as Jesus’ disciples to share His message in our own church field, in our state and county, to other states, and to countries all over the world. That’s why Keith is in China right now, and Ray & Norine were in Romania. That’s why Alex is going to Wales, and Louise Hardee is going to Haiti, and Kerri to Romania later this Summer. That’s why we have a partnership in our “Judea” at Burke United Christian Ministries, and other local missions that Steve’s team leads out on. That’s why we are establishing a “Samaria” partnership with our new Baptist church plants in the city of Pittsburgh — where as we saw Wednesday night you can look from the top of Mt. Washington across the homes of a million people in that city and know that NOT ONE Southern Baptist church is there sharing the gospel. We’ve got to help them take the message. That’s why we’re asking for prayer partners and those who are interested in going on a mission trip to Pittsburgh — if you’d like to be a part, indicate it on the tear-off card in the bulletin. These people need to know there is a King who rules this universe — and who loves them, and died for them.

And so do the people in your school, at your job, and in your neighborhood. Do you know that you will not meet one person this week — not one — whom Jesus does not love, and for whom He did not die? You will not talk to one person this week who cannot be saved, if they will turn to Jesus and ask Him. But as Romans 10 says, How will they hear, unless someone shares the message? Will you ask God today, to help you to that this week?

You know, there has been SO much discussion recently about “fake news.” “Fake news” is everywhere. People are believing fake news; discussing fake news; sharing fake news on Facebook and Twitter. But the news about Jesus is not fake. It’s real. The King of the Universe really came down to earth, and His name is Jesus Christ. He has ultimate power over every area of reality — and amazingly, He loves YOU, and will save YOU today, if you will turn to Him and call Him your King!

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, provides brief devotions from own personal daily Bible reading, as well as some of my sermons, book reviews, and family life experiences.
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