Summary: Legends are based on what people want to believe. The power and ministry of the church in the authority of Jesus is the real thing.

March 1, 2009

Morning Worship

Text: Matthew 4:23-25

Subject: The Ministry of Jesus

Title: The Thing Legends Are Made Of

Have any of you ever made up a really good story? I mean one of those stories that you can tell that you make it sound so believable that people really take you seriously? Many of you deer hunters or fisherman know what I am talking about!

Back in 1971 and 1972 around Louisiana, MO there was a story that stirred up the nation. It is the legend of MOMO the Missouri Monster. Witnesses claim to have seen a huge, hairy, hulking creature stalking the woods and lonely country roads. The creature is similar to the well-known Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest, only more otherworldly. It has glowing orange eyes, a pumpkin-shaped head, three-fingered hands and leaves three-toed footprints. Unlike the shy Bigfoot, this aggressive creature is known to kill animals and antagonize humans.

The Momo saga began in July, 1971. Joan Mills and Mary Ryan were driving along Highway 79, north of Louisiana, when they allegedly saw a hairy creature that made disturbing gurgling noises. The women described the thing as "half ape and half man."

The most notorious sighting took place one year later. On the afternoon of July 11, 1972, 8-year-old Terry Harrison and his 5-year-old brother, Wally, were playing in their backyard at the foot of Marzolf Hill on the outskirts of Louisiana. Their older sister, Doris, was inside the house. Doris heard her brothers scream. She looked out the bathroom window and saw a black, hairy manlike creature, standing by a tree.

The thing appeared to be six or seven feet tall. Its head sat directly atop its shoulders, with no visible neck. The face was likewise invisible, completely covered by a mass of hair.

The youths reported a chilling detail – the creature, streaked with blood, carried a dead dog under its arm.

Later that summer two fisherman in The Cuivre River State Park near Troy reported seeing a strange hairy creature crossing the river early in the morning. (I knew one of those fisherman and I think that if he saw anything it was probably drug induced).

Later sightings were reported as far south as O’Fallon and St. Peter’s.

Then the sightings stopped but the legend remains. Webster’s Dictionary says that a legend is, “a story, handed down from the past, which lacks accurate historical evidence but has been, and may still be, popularly accepted as truth. There never has been any historical evidence to prove that the legend of MOMO was real. Yet the story lives on.

There is a story from a much more distant past – the story of Jesus. Much of the world rejects this story even though there is much evidence of its truth even as we speak today. That evidence is the changed lives, the miraculous healings, and supernatural works of the Holy Spirit working in the church and that evidence cannot be denied.

I want to start you out today with Luke 4:16- 19, 16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the oppressed,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”£

Now as we turn to Matthew 4:23-25 I want to show you the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s anointing that was on Jesus and is on the church today.

Lord, open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the spirit is saying to the church.

I. THE PASSION OF JESUS Verse 25, 3Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. I want you to first look at where most of Jesus’ ministry took place. Some of His ministry took place in Jerusalem and Judea, but a larger part of His ministry was spent in the northern parts of Israel, away from the center of “religion”. Did you ever wonder why that was? It was because the so - called “religious” people were so entrenched in their tradition that they would never accept this radical new kind of faith that Jesus was proclaiming. First of all, he was teaching them as one with authority, not as the scribes. The scribes could only teach what they had heard other men teach. But, the things that Jesus taught were the things that He knew because He knew the Father like no one else could know Him. John 1:1-2, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. The authority that Jesus had to teach He has given to us. He tells us that the Holy Spirit will always be here to give us the right words to speak in every situation that we find ourselves in. Second, He was preaching the good news of the kingdom. Go back up to 4:17. From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” There are a lot of people who take this to mean that Jesus preached the salvation message. That is what we need in order to receive the kingdom. But it says that Jesus preached that the kingdom is near and in verse 25 the good news of the kingdom. What is the good news of the kingdom? Is it salvation and eternal life? Yes, but not just salvation! The kingdom could refer to the millennial reign of Christ or it could refer to the eternal kingdom or both. But since He was preaching that the kingdom was near He must have been telling everyone what the kingdom was going to be like – and not just telling them, but showing them as well. Third, He was showing them by what He was doing and not just by what He was saying. The good news of the kingdom also includes healing every disease and sickness among the people. Notice here that not every sickness is caused by disease. There are so many different forms of sickness – emotional, spiritual, physical and Jesus healed them all. For us to see those types of miracles in the church today we need to separate ourselves from “religion” and look closer at our relationship with the Lord.

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