Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Lord Speak To Me"1 (Lyrics)
Mark 1:38 – Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else — to the nearby villages — so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." (NIV)
I would love to have heard Jesus preaching in any of the synagogues that He visited during His lifetime. What we have in the gospels is only the tip of a whole mountain of messages that Christ must have preached to His people all over Galilee and Judea. We know that He always attended worship each week, so in the preceding days, Jesus must have prepared what He was going to say. I would also have liked to watch Him do that, and pick up a few new methods of fully preparing a sermon. He didn't have the books or devices that I have to help me research the Scriptures for a Sunday message, but I'm certain that His illustrations and interpretations of God's Word must have been amazing and life-changing for His listeners.
The purpose of preaching is to help people understand and apply the salvation history of God. It's not about being entertained or charmed by the charisma of the preacher; it's about being confronted with God's Word and becoming connected to God's Spirit. This makes preaching a controversial form of communication, instead of it being a comfortable expression of faith. I know many preachers who, like myself, often struggle with the Bible passages that they preach on Sundays. They don't want to offend anyone or disappoint someone, but in the end, preachers need to preach what God places on their hearts. A good sermon comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.
I think that this is also why some of Christ's major conflicts took place in the synagogues where He preached. His message was both traditional and radical, authoritative and demanding. Perhaps, if I had been in one of those synagogues where Jesus preached, I might have been offended, too. I know this much: He certainly would have challenged me, as He still does today.
Points to ponder: Have I ever heard a sermon or read a devotional that changed my life? Has my understanding of the purpose of sermons and devotionals changed?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, Your Word is always alive and relevant, as well as challenging and resourceful. Open our hearts and minds to receiving, embracing, and applying the messages that You give to us through preaching in these days. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.