The world has never seen a better preacher than our Lord Jesus Christ. It should be the aim of every preacher to preach like Him, as far as possible.
There is an old book about the preaching style of Jesus titled “The Master Preacher” – over 200 pages in length and out of print since many years. A 6-page condensation of the main points in the book is given below.
Below that, I have attached, an article that I wrote some years ago about my own preaching style – as I have sought to follow Jesus’ example.
Studying the preaching style of Jesus will challenge you to change your preaching style. Don’t hold on to your own style or the style of preaching found in Christendom today, where you see that Jesus’ style was different. Be bold and humble enough to change. Determine to follow Jesus’ example radically. You will then find that God supports you mightily and blesses your ministry.
We need more examples today of preachers who preach like Jesus did.
THE MASTER PREACHER
(Published – 1910) (Now in public domain)
Jesus did not have any fixed hours for His preaching. He was at work at all times of the year and was intensely active throughout His public ministry. All classes of people made up His audience and He had an appropriate message for each one. He preached to the multitudes publicly, but much more to His twelve disciples privately. He travelled all over Israel and addressed the village and town crowds with equal ease. Individuals received the same care from Him as the multitudes did. He did not prefer the poor simply because of their poverty. The rich could come to Him too if they humbled themselves.
In the first three gospels, we read of 31 conversations that Jesus had with 28 persons on 24 occasions. In John’s gospel, we read of 24 conversations that he had with 17 people. 8 conversations that He had with Peter are highlighted.
Jesus saw the importance of every opportunity and never let any of them slip. John 3:10 & 4:18 are instances of His making use of the times of sensitivity to religious truths, and reaching each person with an appropriate message (not just a standard one).
Jesus was always freely approachable and He made much of the individual. He had a special consideration for women and children, even if it meant that at times he had to go against the social norms of His day (as in John 4). He was the friend of sinners – right up to the end.
Jesus preached in the temple, in the synagogues and in the open-air. He preached in the homes of people – disregarding their social position, their financial standing and their purity.
He always got the attention of people when He preached. His preaching was always serious and passionate. He avoided joking and lightheartedness in His messages and never trifled with the great truths of eternity. He was always dignified. His preaching was conversational in style and He encouraged people to ask questions. His personality was authoritative and His insight into man’s thought-processes was remarkably accurate. Each message He preached fitted the occasion.
His home at Nazareth brought Him in touch with the middle-class of society, and His sympathetic heart led Him to discover the condition of the poor and the unfortunate in society. He used the religious ideas of His day as a starting point and then exposed their errors.
Intellectually, Jesus made His preaching understandable to His audience and adapted it to the level of His hearers (Mark 4:33). He was simple, yet deep, and never used fancy words. The mind being the door to the emotions and will, He touched the mind first.
The emotions of His audience were aroused by Jesus’ preaching. Amazement is recorded on 34 occasions on the part of the audience. On 18 occasions, sorrow is mentioned as being caused or alleviated by Him. There was also, anger, joy, jealousy, hope and hatred. His aim in arousing such emotions was never to satisfy Himself or for sensationalism, but always to lead people to right living.
The will was what Jesus finally sought to move in men in all His preaching. He worked towards this goal – to get men to submit totally to the will of God.
His logic. He established his points step by step. Matthew 19:17; 6:28ff; 10:25; 11:16ff; 12:24ff; 7:9ff; 12:11; Luke 11:5ff; 14:28; 15:4; 17:7; John 3:2ff; 4:7ff; 8:3ff’ 8:17ff; 10:34ff.
Illustrations. He used many figures of speech. There are 62 of them in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ alone – e.g. salt, light, bread, etc., A wide range of life was covered. Jesus entered into the full life and interests of men and was not a hermit. He used many illustrations from agricultural and home life. The physical world gave him many themes for spiritual realities. His word-pictures were simple and brief. His illustrations did not always tell the full story. He left something to the imagination of the hearers, because He wanted men to think. Jesus always used clear, simple words. He never used any abstract, difficult words. He used word-pictures only where they made the truth clearer.
Interrogation. There are 237 distinct questions recorded that Jesus asked. This is undoubtedly the best method of preaching. But one must be in touch with God and must know God’s Word thoroughly, to be able to have a ready answer always. Jesus knew the thought-processes of men so well that even when people never said anything, it is written that “Jesus answered and said”.
Denunciations. Jesus denounced wickedness without any respect of persons. He never sought acceptance through name or position in society. He used sharp irony and sarcasm and thus made many enemies – who finally killed Him. But His denunciations were totally free from any personal venom or hatred.
Repetition. Jesus repeated His messages often in different places. He was more concerned to meet the needs of men than to earn a reputation for saying some new thing on each occasion. He also repeated messages and themes to the same audience – about the kingdom of God, God as a Father, love, watchfulness, self-denial, the cross, etc.
Jesus always packed much into a few words.
Jesus never sought to move people by the power of oratory. He wanted people to be moved by the content of His message.
Posture. Jesus preached standing as well as sitting. He prayed standing while in public, and kneeling in private devotions. He touched many whom He healed and also little children. These touches brought Him nearer to those people in spirit as well. He used His hands while speaking too (Matt 12:49). He looked up (Mark 6:41; 7:34; John 11:41; 17:1), and also at times looked at certain people directly (Mark 3:5, 34; 8:33′ 10:21; Luke 6:20; 20:17; 22:61).
Humour and irony. Jesus was a master of irony. He used figures that the common man could appreciate. He could turn an occasion of embarrassment into one of profit (Matt 22:21). See also Matthew 7:1-5; 11:17; 23:24; Luke 11:37-41; 14:12-23.
Startling sayings. Jesus sometimes made startling statements to make the audience think. See Matt 5:29, 30; 6:24; 9:11ff; 11:11; 15:14; 16:28; 16:7, 21ff; 24:42,43; Mark 9:10; 10:26, 30; Luke 2:41ff, 12:51; John 2:19; 6:60.
At times, Jesus would walk away after saying something – Matt 13:53; 15:21; 16:4; 19:1,15. Compare Luke 12:51 with John 14:27; and John 9:39 with 12:47; and John 6:37 with 44.
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