Sermon Series: ‘Encountering Jesus’
Message: ‘Good news of the Kingdom’ pt.1 Text: Luke 8:1-15
Introduction: A man went to church one Sunday.
- He frowned when the worship team got off beat for a moment during the opening song.
- He gave a mean stare at two teenagers talking to each other when the congregation was praying.
- During the Scripture readings, he was wondering if church was going to be over in time so he wouldn’t be late to his neighbors BBQ.
- When the offering plate was passed he felt that the usher was watching to see how much he gave.
- During the sermon, he kept looking impatiently at his watch.
- He was tight-lipped during all of the singing.
As he slipped out front door during the closing song, he thought: Gee, another Sunday I didn’t get anything out of the service.
Another man went to the same worship celebration the same Sunday morning.
- He was blessed by how the worship team played and sang “Amazing Grace.”
- His heart was touched when he saw some of the teens taking notes during the sermon.
- He gave generously when the offering plate was passed and wondered if he was giving enough?
- He listened attentively to the Scripture reading.
- He heard something in the sermon that helped him deal with a problem he was struggling with for a long time.
- He enthusiastically joined in the singing of the closing song of praise.
As he left the church building that morning, he said to himself: It was so good to be in the house of the Lord today.
Both men had gone to the same worship celebration, on the very same Sunday!
- Why was their experience so different?
Could it be because their hearts were in very different places? (Adapted from Dennis Davidson)
The heart… Your heart.
- Is it being cultivated by God and His Word
- or by the world and its ways?
That’s the question Jesus leaves in the minds of those who were following after Him when He tells them the parable of the sower. … It’s the same question He wants us to consider.
Transition: Open your Bibles to Luke 8:1 where Jesus is proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.
- Luke 8:1-3 No distinctions
Read: Luke 8:1-3
OK, Jesus left Simon the Pharisees house and Luke tells us that soon after He began to travel to the surrounding cities and villages. (Remember Jesus was in the region of Galilee) That would make this Jesus’ second trip through those places.
Why would Jesus go where He’s already been?
- Earlier, Luke showed us that in Jesus’ first trip through the towns and cities in the Galilee region, He was teaching the people who He was… Israel’s promised Messiah.
- This time He was expanding upon that by teaching them about the kingdom of God.
You see, for Jesus, the two are intimately connected.
As Messiah, Jesus was Israel’s promised King. And every king has a kingdom. And Jesus was telling them that there’s good news about life in His kingdom…
But that’s really not new. He said that back in Luke 4:43 …I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.
In our text, Luke lets us in on some of what Jesus’ message was. The first good news of the kingdom, had to do with who was with Jesus as He traveled throughout the cities and villages.
- Of course there are those we expect, like the 12 men Jesus set aside to be His Apostles.
- But there are some that we wouldn’t expect to be traveling with Him… at least not for the long haul… women.
You see, it wasn’t unusual in Jesus’ day for women, to support a rabbi who had been influential in their life. But it was unusual for a woman to follow, travel with, an itinerant teacher, like Jesus.
As we have already seen in Luke’s Gospel, women played a significant part in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
And Luke emphases the elevated position Jesus showed to women.
- Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother.
- Mary, Jesus’ mother.
- The godly Anna, who held Jesus in the Temple.
- The sisters; Mary and Martha.
- The last to leave the Cross. (Mk. 15:47)
- The 1st at the Tomb. (Jn. 20:1)
- The 1st to proclaim the Resurrection. (Mt. 28:8)
- They attended the 1st prayer meeting. (Acts 1:14)
- The 1st to greet Missionaries. (Acts 16:13)
- The 1st European converts. (Acts 16:14)
It’s interesting that nowhere in the gospels is a woman recorded as being an enemy of Jesus; all His enemies were men.
So it’s no wonder that here, Luke gets specific about some of the women who followed Jesus.
The first mentioned is Mary Magdalene:
- It’s sad, that many in the church choose to think of her as a prostitute, when that’s never mentioned anywhere in Scripture.
- It does tell us that Jesus delivered her of a number of demons, 7 to be precise.
- To have that many demons living in you, tormenting you every day, intentionally making you do things you don’t want to do.
Her life must have been a living hell.
- But now, her entire life has been transformed by the grace and power of Jesus! She’s no longer the woman who was a slave to the evil that lived inside her.
- Faith in Jesus had set her free. And she chose to never to leave Jesus’ side. And folks, Scripture reports that she never did.
Next, Luke mentions Joanna:
- She was the wife of King Herod’s most trusted aide. Chuza, her husband, was responsible for managing the finances and property of King Herod.
- Joanna life was also greatly transformed by the grace and power of Jesus. Consider this: She had lived the good life of Jewish high society with all the worldly behaviors, and attitudes that went along with it. Jesus changed her entire value system.
Sidebar: We’re not told but I think it’s safe to assume that had Joanna’ husband refused to let her travel with Jesus, Jesus would have told her to stay at home and be a godly example to him. Since she was traveling with Jesus, since she was, by popular opinion, not living as a proper Jewish woman, perhaps her husband wanted nothing to do with her.
It’s interesting to see the varied backgrounds of those who followed Jesus. Mary, a former demon possessed woman, and Joanna, a former member of the royal court.
- We read about Joanna one more time: she was one of the 3 women who went to Jesus’ empty tomb on that first resurrection morning.
Then there’s Susanna:
- This is the only time she is mentioned by name. But we know that she loved Jesus, that Jesus had healed her in some way, and that she too followed and served Jesus.
Finally, Luke mentions many others, meaning many other women who traveled with Jesus.
So, what’s the good news of the kingdom Dr. Luke wants us to see in those who traveled with Jesus? There is no discrimination, no prejudice in the kingdom of God.
- Anyone can be saved, anyone can come to faith in Jesus, anyone, from all walks of society. From the ‘goody two shoes’ to the most horrid excuses for human beings.
- Everyone is equal in the kingdom of God.
That truth was paramount for the Apostle Paul who was a walking conflict of lifestyles:
- He was the upper crust of Jewish society, yet, he willingly executed many Jews who placed their faith in Jesus.
I gotta believe that Paul wrote Galatians 3:28 partly because he needed to be reminded of its truth: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
That was good news in Jesus’s time, in Paul’s day and in ours as well.
One last thing before we move on. The good news of life in the kingdom, the blessing of being citizens of Jesus’ kingdom, does come with responsibility.
We follow King Jesus:
- Wherever He tells us to go, whenever He tells us to go, for as long as He tells us to go.
And we serve King Jesus:
- In whatever capacity He calls us to serve Him,
- With all the resources He gives us in life,
- For as long as He calls us to serve.
That’s exactly what Luke tells us about the women who traveled with Jesus.
When Luke says these women provided for them out of their means, he was saying… out of their substance; out of all that they had: their possessions, finances, time, the best of what they had, their very lives, in its entirety, belonged to Jesus.
How time have changed things. OK, perhaps not things, but how time in the world has changed us:
- We often give out of our abundance, out of what we have extra, left over.
- We often give what doesn’t hurt us to give, doesn’t inconvenience us to give.
We often quickly pass over or conveniently forget what King David said in 2 Samuel 24:24b …I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing. What that means is this:
- I will not serve God only when it’s easy to do so.
Look, most of us will not be called to follow Jesus, to serve Him in full time ministry. But we all called to provide for the work of the kingdom out of our means,
- out of our substance; out of all that we have: our possessions, finances, time, the best of what we have.
As Jesus says later in verse 8
- He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Conclusion: The women in our text this morning had been delivered from demons or healed from various diseases. And as a result, out of their love for Jesus and the transformation He had brought about in their lives, they chose to commit their lives, all of their lives, to following and serving Him.
Honestly, I don’t believe Luke included these 2 verses about the women who followed Jesus, to just tell us about how they provided financially and in other ways for Jesus’ ministry.
While that is significant and an example for us to follow, I believe there’s another, more important reason, Luke included these women in his account of Jesus’ life:
It was so we would see and understand that:
- the greatest blessing in the kingdom of God,
- the pinnacle of the good news of the kingdom of God,
- is that we get to be with Jesus!
Folks, that is the best good news!