November 24, 2020
If there’s one thing this pandemic has reinforced in us it’s this: “Anyone can spread germs.” That’s why so many want to enforce a mask mandate – to stop the spread. Or why some states are telling people to not celebrate Thanksgiving this year – to stop the spread. Or why in some states, like my home state of Oregon, Governors are enforcing another lockdown – to stop the spread. And If we never have to hear the terms: stop the spread, social distancing, lockdown, or Covid-19, again, we’ll be elated. But here’s the thing: Spreading is not always a bad thing. If we spread love – not hate. If we spread faith – not fear. If we spread hope – not gloom and despair. In fact, not one of us would even be here today without this concept of spreading. Because if no one ever spread the good news about Jesus Christ, all of us would still be lost in darkness, enslaved to sin, without hope and without love in this world.
So spreading can be a good thing, especially when it comes to spreading the good news of the kingdom found in Jesus Christ. His ministry among us was all about spreading the good news of the kingdom of God through His Words and His Works. So that’s what we’re going to look at today. We’re going to look at how once Jesus started spreading the good news, good news started spreading about Jesus. And the passage that reveals this is Matthew 4:23-25, where Matthew gives us Jesus’ strategy for spreading the good news of the kingdom of God. So, if you’ve found Matthew 4, let’s begin with verse 23 to see what Jesus did to make to good news about the kingdom go viral: 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
Now that Jesus has been baptized, faced his wilderness temptations, set up his ministry in Galilee and called his first disciples; Matthew now tells us: Jesus Starts Spreading the Good News And Jesus had a very simple strategy for spreading the good news. He employed three methods: teaching, preaching and healing. And each method was designed to reach a different audience. And His first method is this:
Jesus teaches the good news to the committed
Jesus starts with what should be His most receptive audience: God-fearing Israelites who came to worship God and be taught His Word in the synagogue. Here Jesus would find sincere believers in God who would warmly welcome him as a Rabbi and would be receptive to his teaching. So that’s what Jesus did. With this welcoming audience Jesus unpacked truths about the Messiah from the Old Testament and showed them how the Messiah was connected with the arrival of God’s Kingdom.
And for the most part, people were receptive to his teaching and embraced the good news. But just as many had a hard time swallowing the words of this Rabbi from Nazareth, so they rejected His teaching. But this is where Jesus starts spreading the news: with people who are committed to living out the truths of God’s Word.
I find this encouraging. Why? Because if God’s going to start a viral movement of the gospel in our generation – if we’re going to become super spreaders of the gospel, then God must start with us. He wants us to be so well versed in the truth about Jesus – He wants us to be so saturated with the good news of the kingdom, that not only would we embrace Jesus as our king, but that we’d embrace the ways of the kingdom in how we live.
You see, we live in a day when we need the truth about Jesus and his kingdom more than any other time in our lives. People are looking for hope. This pandemic has made people fearful. We are never quite sure whether what the media is feeding us is true or not. And this election has people upside down. So today, more than ever we need to be people who know the truth, believe the truth, study the truth and live the truth about Jesus and way of the kingdom. For when we know His truth, we will have hope, security, peace and a purpose for living in this world that can give people hope.
That’s why Jesus started spreading the good news with people who were sincere about pleasing God, with people who hungered for the truth. So let me ask you: Does this describe you? Are you a student of the truth, who wants to learn the truth so you can live the truth in a world that’s all but abandoned truth? If that’s you – Jesus wants to teach you the truth about Him and life in the kingdom. This is why we want to see every person in a Journey Group. That’s why we want every person learning from Jesus how to live and love like Jesus. That’s why, even if we have to gather here in the cold in golf carts and lawn chairs, we will preach the truth. For we need the truth. For man is not meant to live on bread alone, but one every word that comes from the mouth of God.
That’s why Jesus started spreading the good news with people who were sincere about pleasing God – with the committed. But Jesus didn’t limit his ministry simply to those who welcomed him. For the next thing we see is that…
Jesus preaches the good news to the curious
For the common Israelite, Jesus’ preaching about the kingdom was music to their ears. You think living under the restrictions of this pandemic is bad? Try living under the oppressive hand of a foreign power, who thought you were lowlife and who abused you any way they could. That was the Romans. The Romans imposed their laws and taxes on every Israelite and made them long for a day when they were no longer under the thumb of Roman oppression. And the one hope they held onto was the hope that someday the promised Messiah would come, and when he came, he would deliver them. And so they longed for the glory days. The longed for the day when they would prosper again under a King who would love them. So to this hopeful audience, Jesus proclaimed the good news of the kingdom. He would proclaim: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.“ “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 5:3-10
So Jesus came spreading the good news of the kingdom to this hopeful audience– a people who were curious about Jesus. And you could almost hear them saying: “Who is this Rabbi, announcing the arrival of a new way of life under God’s rule?” “No one has ever spoken like this. Could this be the Messiah?” You see, when Jesus came spreading the good news of the kingdom, he came to those who did not have a voice in their society. Jesus came to those on the margins of life, to the unlovely, to the outcast and the ignored. And his message filled them with hope for a better life.
My guess is that there are plenty of people today who are longing for a better life: A life where you are accepted and loved. A life where you don’t have to prove yourself to fit in. A life where you have significance and are valued for who you are. People are hoping for something better in this world than just tolerating one another. And what people are longing for today is the very same thing Jesus was bringing to light in his day – the good news of an alternative way of life with God in the Kingdom.
And the good news today is this: We have the good news of the kingdom. And it’s found in a life of faith under the reign of Jesus the King. But for far too long, too many of us have been trying to find a better life in the kingdom of this world – in what man offers us, what Madison avenue offers us, in what we think autonomous freedom offers us. But all of these offers of life pale in comparison to life Jesus offers us in the kingdom of God.
With Jesus we can have a life of mercy. With His mercy we can forgive those who wrong us. With Jesus we can live a life of love. With His love we can make enemies our friends. And with Jesus we can live a life grounded in hope. And with the hope He gives us we can show our world a different way to live. For with Jesus we have the good news of the kingdom. But our world isn’t looking to us for hope like it once did. But maybe we can change that. Maybe it’s time we stopped looking to man for answers and go all in with Jesus in His new way of life in the kingdom of God. And if that’s you – you’re in a good place – for beginning next week we get to start unpacking the gospel of the kingdom. You see, we need the good news of the kingdom today as much as we ever have – and our world needs it too. That’s why Jesus started spreading the good news of the kingdom with people who were looking for hope.
So Jesus taught the good news to the committed. Jesus preached the good news to the curious. But then we see that
Jesus authenticates the good news to the crowds through His ministry of healing.
Like today, very few people were committed to pleasing God or were curious about Jesus. And Jesus knew this, so in order to spread the good news to the crowds who were far from God, Jesus now begin healing people wherever he went. Whoever is brought to him, he heals. Whatever ailment he encounters, he heals. His power over the ravages of sin was total: Demons are cast out. Epileptics become whole. The Lame walk, and the blind see. Why did Jesus reach out with these acts of mercy? To authenticate His message and to reveal to all that He was the promised Messiah. For by his healing ministry Jesus does precisely what Isaiah said the Messiah would do when he comes: “And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy.” Isaiah 35:5-6.
So Jesus came spreading the good news, but once he started healing people…
Good News Starts Spreading About Jesus So His fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
Jesus’s fame spreads like wildfire: Momentum is building. The Kingdom is coming, as people are witnessing Jesus’ power over the devasting effects of sin. So word of his fame spreads like wildfire throughout Syria – the Roman Province in which Galilee is a part. It’s a word of hope for the hopeless.
So the next thing we see is that People start bringing the diseased and afflicted to Jesus from all over Galilee and he heals them too. And the more Jesus heals, the more the good news starts spreading throughout all Israel so that we now see Crowds starting to follow Jesus. People from the Roman region of Decapolis (another center of the Gentiles) are drawn to Jesus. People from Jerusalem and Judea get word of this would be Messiah and begin making their journey to Galilee to follow Jesus. And even people from the region of Perea (North and East of the Jordan River) are alerted to the presence of this miracle worker who’s bringing hope to the hopeless – and they too come to follow Jesus.
And what we see from all of this is how Jesus’s ministry of mercy magnifies His message of the good news. And isn’t this what our world needs today? We need mercy. And Jesus has shown us what authenticates the message of good news: it’s in doing works of mercy. It’s in healing lives damaged by the effects of sin. It’s in healing broken relationships. And here’s the good news: Jesus still heals today!
Isaiah 53:5 says this about Jesus: He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.
You see, when Jesus came spreading the good news, He healed those who were demon possessed. He set the captives free. He healed those who were spiritually enslaved. And Jesus still set’s people free today. He’s still setting people free from addictions to drugs, alcohol, lust, anger, and fear.
And when Jesus came spreading the good news, He healed those having seizures. Literally, those who were epileptics – those mentally or emotionally ill. In other words, Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted. And Jesus is still healing those who struggle with anxiety, depression, grief, and despair. For Jesus brings with Him peace, purpose, life and hope.
And when Jesus came spreading the good news, He healed the paralytics. Literally, anyone imprisoned by crippling handicaps, bound up physically. For Jesus came to restore what is broken. For He is merciful and still heals today.
So here’s the good news: If Jesus still heals today, then He can heal our world through us, if we start spreading the good news like Jesus…
- If we let Him fill our hearts and minds with the truths of the kingdom so that we can show the world there’s another way to live. Being committed to His Word, being in His Word, so our lives are shaped by His Word.
- If we let Him fill us with the same passion to seek and save the lost, so we might learn to good news of life with Jesus in the kingdom, so that this good news goes viral through us.
- And If we let Him fill us with the same mercy He has given us, then we might become the people of mercy our world needs today. And if we just let Him do these things with us…
Then we’ll start spreading the news and word will start spreading about Jesus, and Jesus will start healing our world!