The Cost for Preaching the Gospel
Topic: Evangelism Verse: Luke 3:18–3:20
“THE COST OF SHARING THE GOSPEL”
Theme: Jesus Christ is worthy of whatever cost we might pay to proclaim His Word and will.
Jesus – the greatest preacher that ever lived – was executed by His enemies. Those most closely associated with Him throughout the establishment of the church faced the same hostilities. In our text today, we find that John the Baptist encountered the hostility of those who were convicted by His preaching. All of Jesus’ Apostles, except for John, face similar fates:
- Peter – crucified upside
- Andrew (Peter’s brother) – was also crucified (tied, not nailed)
- James (John’s brother) – executed by Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1-2)
- Philip – stoned in Asia Minor
- Nathanael (also called Bartholomew) – bound and thrown into the sea
- Matthew – burned at the stake
- Thomas – speared
- James (son of Alphaeus) – stoned
- Simon the Zealot – sawn in two
- Thaddeus – (Judas son of James) – clubbed to death
- Paul – likely beheaded at Rome
Others were killed by the enemies of Christ – Ignatius, Polycarp, Chrysostom, Wycliffe, Huss, Latimer, Ridley & on this Reformation Sunday we acknowledge countless saints who died for their faith at the hands of the Inquisition and Counter-Reformation.
I. Exhort People with the Truth – 3:18
A. The Gospel Must Be Fervently Presented
- As Luke has been detailing the ministry of John as he diligently sought to prepare Israel for the coming of the Messiah – preaching repentance and the abandonment of sin, he brings us to a summary statement of John’s ministry.
- He states: “So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people.”
- This description that “he preached” [εὐαγγελίζω] – describes the authoritative announcement of a message of good news committed to him by God.
- He didn’t preach his own ideas, felt needs, social fads, or personal preferences, but “the gospel.”
- It is described as an imperfect, middle action – meaning it was simply what he constantly did as a constant motivation.
- Since he didn’t merely denounce sin, he was fixated on the forgiveness that was available – that is what made his message “good news.”
- He was eagerly begged people to be reconciled to God.
B. The Gospel Must Be Forcefully Presented
- We are told that this preaching was forceful – including “many exhortations” [παρακαλέω] – this term also means to “urge strongly, appeal, urge, exhort, or encourage” change – to turn from sin to follow Christ.
- This is the essence of John’s efforts – to “call to one’s side” – to join him in his submission to the righteousness of God and abandonment of sin.
- This means that he was willing to provide specific actions that had to be the options to their sins – calling on people to stop doing what they were in the offense to God and begin to practice righteousness.
- The more popular Jesus became, the more fulfilled John was in his ministry and eager he became to call people to submit – cp. John 3:22-30.
- This was done indiscriminately and without prejudice – preaching “… to the people,” that is to whomever would listen to him – pauper or king.
- Is there a proper correlation between your love for Christ and your sharing Him with others?
- What are some ways that believers can “preach” the gospel?
- What are the “qualifications” that you have place upon those with whom you will share the gospel?
II. Express Implications of the Truth – 3:19
A. The Clarity of the Implications
- His message wasn’t dulled or nuanced – he proclaimed the truth in such a way that people were able to understand the implications of what is being said.
- Luke explains that “Herod the tetrarch was reprimanded by him because of Herodias …”
- As John preached against sin and called people to escape the consequences of sin through repentance and faith in God’s promise to forgive, people were “reprimanded” for their continued indulgence in sin.
- “reprimanded” [ἐλέγχω] describes exposing a wrong – by naming and arguing against it for the purpose of convicting or convincing change – John 3:20.
- This is the calling of those who will preach the Gospel – it will include the shining of the Light upon the darkness of sin for the purpose of calling people to repentance – cp. Ephesians 5:11, 13
B. The Comprehensiveness of the Implications
- A Gospel presentation that fails to leave a person aware of their liability before God for their sins is a deficient presentation.
- The specific point of conviction on the part of Herod was “because of Herodias”
- a. Herod had married the daughter of Aretas, the king of Nabatea.
- b. While on a trip to Rome, Herod visited his brother Philip and while visiting became infatuated with Philip’s wife Herodias (who was their niece by another half-brother).
- c. Herodias was eager to advance on the social ladder and saw that Herod was more powerful than her husband Philip and agreed to “change husbands.”
- d. She required that Herod divorce Nabatea which ultimately caused a war between Herod and Aretas which Herod would have lost altogether had not Rome intervened.
- Yet, it went beyond that adulterous, incestuous, treachery with Herodias and included “… all the wicked things which Herod had done.”
- As Herod heard John’s preaching, he became very much aware of how John was condemning not merely the transgressions of divorce, adultery, lust, incest, and betrayal, but also the very life that Herod possesses represented by “all the wicked things” that he’d done.
- It seems that he began to understand that our problem is not merely what we’ve done, but who we are as sinners.
- What place does sin have in the presentation of the Gospel?
- What is the difference between judging people for their sin and identifying sin in others?
- How specific does God expect us to be in identifying sin?
III. Expect Reaction to the Truth – 3:20
A. The Perplexity of Those Who React
- We are told in our text that Herod’s wickedness became all the more evident by adding yet another wicked deed – “Herod also added this to them all: he locked John up in prison.”
- John was in prison for some time, but not without continued influence on Herod.
- Herod was made aware through John’s preaching that his actions with Herodias were offensive to God – a flagrant violation of God’s law – cp. Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 20:21
- Herod was perplexed as to what to do with John – cp. Mark 6:17-20.
B. The Pressure on Those Who React
- Thus, Herod was in a constant state of confusion – with torn priorities.
- On the one hand, he “used to enjoy listening to [John],” and on the other was Herodias who “wanted to put him to death.” – Mark 6:19
- Finally came a day when Herodias was able to trap Herod and force him to fulfill her wish to kill John – cp. Mark 6:21-29
- Herod was plagued by the guilt of what he had done to John – cp. Matthew 14:2-4
- The choices that Herod made in response to the preaching of John cost him far more than his conscience – it also cost him his rule as he was exiled by Caesar and also “exiled” to eternal condemnation by God for his sins.
- Who is truly being rejected when people react to our presenting the Gospel?
- How can you safeguard that reactions will be to the Gospel and not to you?
- What do you consider to be too high a price to share Christ?