January 9, 2011
Text: Matthew 3:13-17
Title: Know God by Knowing Jesus
In May 2010, there was a research experiment performed at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, where they hooked up the brains of 23 Dutch women to magnetic resonance imaging machines (MRIs) to study the neuroscience of advertising.
The scientists wanted to find out if using famous celebrities in advertising is truly an effective marketing strategy. So they took photographs of popular celebrities wearing and promoting a certain brand of footwear. They showed the test subjects photos of the shoes with non-famous models, showed them photos of the celebrities with the shoes, and then showed them pictures of the shoes by themselves. All the while, they have their brains hooked up to complex computerized machines that show brain activity. The researchers made a point of making sure the non-famous models were of comparable beauty as the celebrities to make sure the test subjects weren’t responding just to physical attractiveness.
What they discovered is that when they saw photographs that included the popular celebrities, there was correspondent brain activity that showed that the test subjects were more pleased and were feeling more positive emotions than when they saw pictures of the shoes with non-famous shoe models. And then later, when they saw the pictures of the shoes that had been previously shown with the celebrities, those same positive feelings appeared. So in other words, the positive emotions they had for the celebrities was actually transferred to the products themselves.
The researches concluded that using famous and well-liked people in advertising is effective. So let’s say you are a huge fan of Englebert Humperdinck. And then someone uses Engelbert Humperdinck to advertise a new weed-wacker. According to this study, your positive feelings about your weekend in Atlantic City will now be subconsciously transferred to the lawn appliance. That’s the power of getting the right endorsement.
I’m going to be bold and tell you that the Gospel reading for today is one of the most important stories in the life of Christ. Obviously, all of the Bible is God’s Word and is important. I’m not denying that. There are the four canonical Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We have four reliable eyewitness-based accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. Some of the stories you know about Jesus are found in Matthew, some in Mark, some in Luke and some in John. Some stories are found in only one Gospel. Other stories are recorded in two or even three of the Gospels. But did you realize that very few events in the life of Christ are recorded in all four Gospels? That’s true. Only two of them, Matthew and Luke, for instance, record His birth, which we made such a big deal out of around here just a couple of weeks ago. All four of them describe His crucifixion and all four tell about His resurrection from the dead. Other than the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the only event that appears in all four Gospels is His baptism in the Jordan River.