Good morning…In just a few short weeks, we will celebrate the most significant event since the creation of the world. Easter, much like our other Christian holy days, is a time when the eyes & ears, the minds and hearts of the world are dialed in to what the Church is doing. This is also a time when many within the Church are looking for a fresh revelation from God; Christians are hoping to meet with God again and to have Him come alive in their hearts like when they first believed. Because this is true, Christians everywhere have a great evangelistic opportunity to make Jesus famous this Easter season.
Matt. 4:23-25 – “…and His fame went out” – The Greek word which we translate to say fame/famous means “to speak”. It is a “public report or rumor.” It’s “a report of good or great actions which exalts the character [of another]”. “…and His fame went out.”
When we think of fame we often think of people like Beyonce, Anne Hathaway, or Kevin Durant. We think of someone who is rich, a music idol, star athlete, or movie star. Just last week hundreds of “famous” people were celebrated at the Oscars. How did those people become famous? How does anyone become famous nowadays? Thanks to social media it doesn’t take much, however, as the word fame is defined people become famous when a report is spread about them for what is considered to be good or great actions. Now, some people are famous for not so good or great actions – Lindsey Lohan.
In the passage just read from Matthew 4:23-25, the spotlight has moved from John the Baptist and now rests upon Jesus. Jesus is now the Star of the show thanks to John’s incarceration. Matthew tells us in verse 24 that it was Jesus’ fame which went out. This is the beginning of His ministry. The CAUSE of Jesus’ fame is seen in verse 23. He went around teaching & preaching the gospel as well as healing people. The EFFECT of Jesus’ fame is that more people are brought for Him to heal.
If you look at Luke 5:12-16 you can see this same reaction to Jesus. He heals a man of leprosy and commands that he not tell anyone about who He is, and Luke tells us that “the report about Him went abroad” and that as a result more people came to hear Jesus’ message and to be healed by Him!
In Matthew 4 He’s preaching, teaching, and healing in Galilee and then word spread to ALL of Syria and finally people from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan all began to understand that there is a celebrity nearby. Jesus’ fame took Him from obscurity to rock star status. It took Him from being an undiscovered talent to being the most sought after Man in the entire Holy Land, all because people were spreading the news about what He had done for them.“…and His fame went out.”
Has God done anything for you within the past week? Have you told anyone about what He’s done? Has God done anything for you today? Who will you tell? This Easter, we must make Jesus famous!
Where to make Jesus famous? (Matt. 28:16-20; Mark 16:15) – The first place that you and I need to make Jesus famous is in our own little worlds. If you read the Great Commission in Matthew’s gospel and in the gospel of Mark, we are told to make Jesus famous…to all nations and to the entire world (Acts 1:8). The starting point is Jerusalem, the very place where the disciples are located. He doesn’t tell them to go to the ends of the earth and work their way back to Jerusalem, He says first make Me famous right where you live.
In an article from SmallGroups.com…it’s stated that “In contrast to the biblical model of the Great Commission (where the good news spread in waves from a central starting point)…missions leapfrogged “Jerusalem and Judea” entirely, aiming straight for the “uttermost parts of the Earth” (http://www.smallgroups.com/downloads/biblestudy/currentissues/mec01.html).
The places we live, work, play, shop, etc – that is our Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. Make Jesus famous in those places! Don’t leapfrog your home or your neighborhood. Don’t leapfrog your community or city make Jesus famous right where we are and then go to the ends of the earth!
There are four ways that you and I can make Jesus famous this Easter season. We can make Jesus famous by serving/loving the people around us. We can make Jesus famous through prayer. We can make Jesus famous by relying on the Holy Spirit. And finally, we can make Jesus famous by speaking of His greatness.
We can make Jesus famous when we serve/love the people around us. One thing that stands out from Matthew 4:23-25 is that, not only was Jesus preaching and teaching, but He was healing. Jesus was meeting an actual need and that as a result the word about Him spread. People began to understand that this Man Jesus actually cares about me! Teddy Roosevelt and John Maxwell are credited with having said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” James, the half-brother of Jesus said it better, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17).
If we are going to make Jesus famous we must serve and love the people around us. And this isn’t always easy. In John 15:19 Jesus said, “If you were of the world the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I have [chosen] you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” 1 Peter 4:8-11 reminds us to have fervent love for one another and that as we serve and love others the chief goal is to glorify God! How involved are you in the life of your neighbors? What could you do to show them the love of Christ? Maybe you could bring them a meal once a week/month or invite them to your house for a meal. Maybe you could offer to do some grocery shopping for them or fix something around their house, maybe you could just go and talk with them. What could you do to minister to your co-workers, especially the ones nobody in the office really likes? Maybe you could offer to drive them to and from work a day or two out of the week or stay late to help them finish a project. How will you be His witness in your “Jerusalem”? Bob Goff, author of the book Love Does said that “every time we love people extravagantly we answer one more question the world has about God’s character” (tweeted @9:23am, Feb. 27th, 2013).
This Easter, let’s make Jesus famous by serving and loving the people around us until the world knows that He cares for them.
Another way that we can make Jesus famous this Easter season is through prayer. If you look in the book of Acts, you may notice that every major event was a direct result of the people of God praying for God to be glorified.
-Acts 1 – the people are praying and Matthias is chosen as Judas’ replacement.
-In Acts 2 – the people are praying on the Day of Pentecost and the Spirit of God fills every person in the room and they spoke with different tongues. The people are praying, fear falls on them, the apostles perform miracles and the Lord starts saving people at an astronomical rate.
-In Acts 3 – Peter and John go to the temple to pray and God uses them to heal a man who has been lame since birth.
I could go on and on about early historians, revivalists, and theologians like Jonathan Edwards & Charles Finney, leaders of the 1st & 2nd Great Awakenings or men like Richard Allen and Absalom Jones founders of the African Methodists Episcopal Church, but the point is this, as a result of the people of God spending considerable amounts of time praying to God about how He wants to be glorified His fame spread.
I love what John Piper says about prayer in his book Desiring God, he says, “Prayer is the open admission that without Christ we can do nothing. And prayer is the turning away from ourselves to God in the confidence that he will provide the help we need. Prayer humbles us as needy, and exalts God as wealthy.” What are you praying for? Pray that the fame of Jesus will spread.
RELY ON THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
If you look back at Acts 1:8, before the disciples could be Jesus’ witnesses they had to receive power from the Holy Spirit. In John’s gospel Jesus says that His departure makes way for the Spirit of Truth to come and guide us into all truth (John 16:13). Matthew 10:16-20 Jesus says,
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
Here, Jesus says that, sometimes we will go through hell, we will be punished, persecuted, and mistreated so that His fame can go out, and that when this happens the Spirit of God Himself will come upon us and speak through us! Too often we don’t talk about Jesus because we are more focused on our theological limitations than on the supernatural ability of God to show up. We don’t tell our friends, family, co-workers and neighbors about Him because we sense that we won’t be able to answer the questions they throw at us…and the truth is, you may not have the answer they need, but if you will step back and let the Spirit of God speak for Himself through you then you will be His witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
TALK ABOUT JESUS
Finally, as we serve/love the people around us, as we petition the Lord to show up and glorify Himself, and as we rely on the Spirit of God, we must also be bold enough to talk about Jesus when we are given the opportunity to speak– (Rom. 10:17). Paul says how can unbelievers call on God when He has not been made famous? When nobody is speaking about Him? How can the people you know place their trust in God if you are not telling them about what God is doing in your life? And I’m not just talking about a FB post or a tweet; I’m talking about a face-to-face conversation where they can see and hear the impact of God on your life.
What should we speak about? In 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, Paul says “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Now I would remind you, brothers,a of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
You should speak about the fact that according to Acts 4:12, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” There is more talk about golf, OU, OSU, and Thunder basketball than there is about the resurrection power of Jesus! And He has done more for you than all the Oklahoma sports teams combined since you took your first breath. Make Him famous this Easter!
Talk about how He restored your marriage. Talk about how He answered your prayers for your children’s salvation. Talk about how when your back was against the wall and your friends abandoned you, you found a friend in Jesus! Talk about how the doctors couldn’t explain your miraculous recovery. Talk about how when depression had you confined to the bed ready to end it all Jesus stepped in and gave you a new lease on life. Talk about how He saved your soul and how He loved you when you didn’t care about Him!
Talk about how a beautiful God looked at a sin wrecked world, twisted, smashed, and smothered by its own self-ambitions, by our own evil desires to occupy the throne of our heart – the seat reserved for God alone, and that instead of destroying us because of our rebellion He went through hell for us, that instead of turning His back to us He became like us – filled to the brim with sin so that we could become like Him – filled to overflowing with His love, beauty, and righteousness! Talk about what He has done for you! Make Him famous this Easter!
Again, now is a time when the world is watching the Church and people are receptive to conversations about the gospel. I would even go so far as to say that they are expecting Christians to work Jesus, Church, and the Bible into the conversation somehow. “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest” (John 4:35). “Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). Make Jesus famous through service and love, by praying for the lost, by relying on the Spirit of God to glorify Himself and by speaking of the greatness of our God. “[It is Jesus] we preach, warning every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col.1:28).
CALL TO SURRENDER
Now, one of the first things people usually ask for whenever they meet is famous person is an autograph; sign my baseball, sign my hat or t-shirt. Years ago I was a big fan of professional wrestling and got Jake “the Snake” Roberts’ autograph on the back of a $1 food stamp. Eventually that signature started to fade and I spent that food stamp (probably on candy). If you have never surrendered your life to Jesus Christ then I want to ask you to do that today and let Him autograph His name on your heart. I promise that it will never fade or lose its value and that you will be changed for ever.