Scripture: Matthew 28:11-20
In the “post-truth” age in which we now find ourselves, the relevance of “fake news” has increased. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines fake news as “false stories that appear to be news usually created to influence political views.”
According to Wikipedia, fake news is “journalism or propaganda that consist of deliberate misinformation with the intent to mislead in order to damage an agency, entity, or person.”
Fake news has become so prevalent in our society today that news outlets now have a segment devoted to “fact checking” and “keeping [those] honest” who traffic in its dissemination.
As I was researching fake news for this sermon, I ran across several ways to spot fake news. One way to spot fake news is by considering the source [of the fake news]. If it is a “fake news” station [Fox], or channel, or show, then more than likely they will be reporting fake news. Another way to spot fake news, according to my research, is to read beyond the headlines. Headlines of fake news are sensationalized, dishonest and fabricated. Read, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”
Real journalism supports the claims it makes by verifying and corroborating the facts of its reporting before reporting them.
While the women who had gone to the tomb early that first day morning after the crucifixion to anoint the body of Jesus were on their way to tell the disciples that they had seen the Risen Lord, those who had been guarding the tomb went to the city to report everything that happened (v.11).
And when the Chief Priest had met with the Elders and devised a plan, they gave the guards a large some of money and told them to go and spread some fake news. “Say that his disciples came during the night and stole Him away while you were sleep (v.13).
The soldiers took the money and did as they had been instructed and the fake news story was widely circulated among the Jews (v.15).
This text is about fake news. It is about the dissemination of misinformation. Fake news deliberately and intentionally misinforms to damage an agency, entity or person.
Misguided men authored the dissemination of this misinformation. The chief priests and the elders were misguided in their antagonist efforts towards Jesus. They allowed what they did know about Jesus to misguide them about what they did not know about Jesus.
They knew that Jesus was from Nazareth. And because they knew that He was from Nazareth, they concluded that He could not be the anointed one because it Micah who prophesied that the ruler/messiah of God would come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). They did not know that He was born in a manager in Bethlehem of Judah.
The chief priest and elders’ were jealous of Jesus ministry and His teachings and on numerous occasions sought to trap him, and trick him, and test him (Matthew 22:15), and ultimately had him tried and conflicted of treason (Matthew 27:11). You can spot fake news by considering the source and checking the credentials of those reporting fake news.
The Good News overcomes the misinformation of these misguided men, to mislead the people, with this story of fake news. In vv. 19-20, Jesus commissions His disciples to the eradication of fake news by the telling of the Good News that He’s alive and well. Go and baptize disciples in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Teach them to observe all the things that I have taught you, and I’ll be with you always, even to the end of the age (v.20).
We are commissioned to the eradication of fake news by telling the Good News and He’s promised to be with us no matter what we face.
He’ll be with us always, even to the end of the age. Hallelujah!
The Rev. Dr. Kelvin T. Calloway, Sr., is the pastor of Bethel AME Church, 7900 S. Western Ave., in Los Angeles.