Hear the Good News and Act

‘HE WHO HAS EARS to hear, let him hear.’ That is what Jesus said to the crowds in Matthew 11:15. He was looking for people who had ears. I assume the majority of the people in those crowds had two ears, and I also assume that most people who are reading this have two ears.

It seems a bit of an obvious thing to say, doesn’t it? If they didn’t have ears, they wouldn’t be able to hear. But Jesus is looking for active listeners—not just people who will hear his words, but people who will act on those words, use them to create a change in their lives.

Jesus preached to thousands of people in his three and a half-year ministry. Lots of them, maybe thousands of them would have heard his words and not acted on them. In Matthew chapter 13 he told a parable about a man who scattered seed on different types of ground. The different types of ground represent different types of hearers. ‘And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them’ (v. 4). This seed was never given a chance. These are the people who heard what Jesus said, but they did not take it on board, they didn’t use it as a catalyst for change.

But there is other ground in the parable: ‘Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty’ (v. 8). Here we see seed that falls in a place that is conducive to growing: it’s the right soil, and gets the right amount of sunlight and irrigation; here the seed thrives and grows into a flourishing plant. Jesus identifies the people who are represented by this kind of ground: ‘This is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another  sixty, and in another thirty’ (v. 23). The Greek word that is translated ‘understand’ means to consider and to be wise. These people considered what Jesus said and let it affect their lives.

People Who Responded

Let’s look at some people who responded to the good news that Jesus was bringing. What actions made them different from the ones who didn’t understand? We’ll go through the Gospel of Matthew to find the actions of these people.

Chapters 5–7 contain what is sometimes referred to as the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, in which Jesus taught the crowds many extraordinary and profound things. Let’s look at the response of the people: ‘When Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes’ (7:28–29). The crowd were ‘astonished’, this Greek word has the idea ‘to be smitten’, they had never heard anything like this. Is that enough of a reaction? Will that save them? Would that save us?

In chapter 9 we see Jesus healing a paralysed man. ‘When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men’ (v. 8). Again, the Greek can help us out here because the word ‘afraid’ is translated differently in other parts of the New Testament: it is also translated as ‘admire’ or ‘marvel’, similar to the astonishment in chapter 7, but here we have an added extra. They glorified God. When we fully recognise where the ‘good news’ comes from, it is only reasonable that we will glorify God and humble ourselves before Him.

To see what else is required of us in our reaction to this good news, let’s go back to the start of Matthew and consider the words of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. In chapter 3 we see John baptising believers in the river Jordan. What is required of them first? ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 3:2). ‘Repent’ is the idea of change, of recognising that we are sinful, that our actions are wrong and that we need to turn around and do our best to go in the other direction. So the people who were baptised confessed their sins (v. 6). Jesus’ own preaching followed this pattern: ‘From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”’ (4:17).

When we are confronted with the Gospel we are ‘smitten’, we will glorify God, and we’ll be moved to repent. And then we will naturally want to follow the commandments God has laid out in the Bible.


There is one more response that is required of us. Everything we’ve seen so far is essential for salvation, and so is this—it is baptism.

John was baptising in the river. Many people came to Jesus to be baptised. One thing you will notice if you consider all the accounts of baptism in the Bible, is that they always involve adults—adults who can hear, understand and react to the good news that Jesus preached.

This is clearly stated by Jesus himself: ‘Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned’ (Mark 16:16). To be ‘smitten’ with the Gospel message so that we glorify God and repent before him, is a process of developing belief. It culminates in the response of baptism.

Finally let’s go to an example in the Acts of the Apostles, where we have another follower of Jesus, Philip, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to an Ethiopian eunuch:

And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him (Acts 8:36–38).

The message from the Bible is clear. When we hear the good news, we are to react, to be proactive. We are to glorify God, our Creator. We are to repent, believe and be baptised, washing away our sins, and start a new life in Jesus Christ.

Ben Clarke

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”

Romans 6:3–8

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