Jesus - the Perfect Preacher
There are so many kinds of preachers today. A preacher can accomplish so much good, but preachers can also do immeasurable harm. Denominationalism (many different churches teaching many different doctrines) is basically the product of preachers who are seeking a personal following (cp. I Cor. 1: 10 ff.). The work of preaching is very important. Hear the apostle Paul:
"18: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God .21: For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (I Cor. 1: 18, 21).
When many think of Jesus, they do not consider him as being a preacher. However, Jesus was a preacher. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," Jesus said of himself, "because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor " (Lk. 4: 18). Notice that Jesus preached the gospel. In view of Jesus being a preacher, the question is, what kind of preacher was Jesus?
Jesus was an original preacher. Jesus spake as none other, we are told (Jn. 7: 46). Jesus did not teach as the scribes of his day, engaging in the painstaking presentation of tautological tradition (Matt. 7: 29). It is also evident that Jesus was not simply a people pleasing preacher. Jesus spoke the truth even at the risk of repelling others, even his own disciples (Jn. 6: 60). Jesus was original in two principle ways: Jesus was not bound by the Jew's traditional notions and preoccupations that characterized their teachings, and he presented and revealed truths of God as only the Son of God could (cp. 2 Tim. 1: 10).
Jesus spoke with authority. Jesus is never seen in the scriptures as a mealy mouth speaker who was certain of nothing. One thing that impressed many of the people was: "For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matt. 7: 29). Jesus spoke with definiteness and finality. Hear Jesus: "For I have not spoken of myself: but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak" (Jn. 12: 49). Jesus also spoke in strict accordance to what had been written (Matt. 4: 4, 7, 10). Jesus was bound by the authority of the revealed word and presented it in its purity without addition or change of any kind. In this vein, Jesus challenged and debated those who did pervert God's law by their traditions and creeds (Mk. 7, Matt. 5, 6).
Jesus had conviction in the things he taught. Jesus taught there is only one way (Jn. 14: 6). He spoke of the "strait gate" as opposed to the "wide gate" and showed that only a relatively few will be saved (Matt. 7: 13, 14). Jesus said man can only successfully serve one master (Matt. 6: 24). As a result of Jesus' strong and uncompromising preaching, he caused division among his religious brethren on more than one occasion (Jn. 7: 43, 9: 16, 10: 19, cp. Matt. 10: 34, 35). Jesus had great compassion of the penitent, but he was militant regarding the blatant sinners of his day (Matt. 23).
Jesus sanctioned all good and condemned all evil. Jesus' teaching was complete in that he both upheld the good (positive) and condemned the opposite evil (negative). He acknowledged teaching that was accurate when he could, even on the part of his common enemies, the Pharisees (Matt. 23: 1-3). Jesus did the unpopular when he approved of the publican's prayer and the sinful woman (Lk. 18: 13, 14; 7: 36-50). Jesus upheld the true teaching of the law without regard to Hillal or Shamai (Matt. 19: 3, 5, 6, 9, 10). Just as Jesus was fast to endorse the good, he was just as eager to expose sin and false doctrine (Mk. 7: 6-9). Jesus attacked the errorists of his day, as they had not heretofore experienced (see Matt. 23).
Jesus did not leave people in suspense but he plainly told them how to obtain forgiveness. Jesus was not a theoretical, philosophizing, empty preacher. His words were calculated to impart information and convict the hearers. Jesus spoke of the reality of sin on many occasions (Jn. 9: 41). Jesus did not speak of sin as simply a mental disorder or sickness. No where did Jesus suggest that sin is only a matter of social aberration. Jesus taught that sin is that which corrupts the very soul of man (Matt. 15: 18, 19). Jesus challenged his hearers with the concept of repentance, a change of mind and will relative to sin (Matt. 21: 28-32). He showed how true repentance will result in a changed life (Ibid.). In this connection, Jesus unequivocally urged men to obey the commands of God (Matt. 19: 16 ff.). In fact, Jesus said that those who love him will keep his commands and, conversely, those who do not keep his commandments do not love him (Jn. 14: 21-24).
There was a marked difference, however, in Jesus' remedy for sin and in any of his predecessors or successors. Jesus himself offered forgiveness. Jesus "had power on earth to forgive sins" (Matt. 9: 6). The Jews knew that only God could forgive sin and they charged Jesus with blasphemy (Lk. 5: 18-26). The reason Jesus himself could forgive sin was, indeed, because he was God or deity in the flesh (Col. 2: 9).
Jesus is man's exemplar in all areas of life (cp. I Pet. 2: 21). Man cannot mimic Jesus' teaching in some areas, such as his originality and the offer of forgiveness. However, preachers today must speak as the oracles of God (I Pet. 4: 11). There must be resident conviction and plainness in the preaching (2 Cor. 3: 12). Good and evil must be clearly distinguished and upheld and condemned, respectively. God's word must be defended and error vigorously exposed (Jude 3, Phili. 1: 7, 17). Preachers today must point sinners to Jesus "the lamb of God" (Jn. 1: 29). Men today must have their allegiance to Christ and his precious truths instead of some denominational creed, political agenda, or social reform as such. We need preachers like Jesus instead of social workers, public relations men, and pacifiers of all sorts and types. Jesus was a preacher like no other. He spoke the truth without fear or favor. (Be sure to read, "Plainness of Speech")