Preaching Articles

I think we can all agree that Jesus is the greatest preacher to ever walk the face of the Earth. As pastors, if there is anyone we should emulate in our preaching it is Jesus!

So how did Jesus teach?

Here are six of Jesus’ preaching methods that we can all learn from:

1. Jesus Told Stories

Jesus told countless parables (Mark 4:34). He pulled spiritual truth from everyday life. Not only did these stories make Jesus’ preaching more memorable, they also connected in much more profound way. Think about the parable of the Prodigal Son. Jesus could have proclaimed, “God loves you so much that He will welcome you back to Him no matter how far you have wandered away.”

That is definitely true. However, Jesus instead chooses to tell the story of a boy who disowned his family, partied away his inheritance, came home to beg for mercy, but was surprisingly welcomed with open arms by his father who waited daily for his return. Which is more powerful? If you want to preach like Jesus, tell stories. Lots of them. Use examples from everyday life to teach spiritual truth.

2. Jesus Shocked People

Jesus often used hyperbole. He taught using outrageous examples, exaggerations and shocking statements that got people’s attention. These statements were not all meant to be taken literally, but they definitely got the point across. For example Jesus didn’t really mean we have to rip out our eyes and amputate our hands for causing us to sin (Matthew 5:29-30), or else all Christians would be blind amputees. 

He also didn’t mean that the people he spoke to literally had logs in their eyes (Matthew 7:3-5). Jesus was simply making a very clear point. Jesus said things that shocked people and exaggerated the truth to emphasize His point. If you want to preach like Jesus, shock people. Exaggerate a little with your questions. Say outrageous things that aren’t meant to be literal, but grab attention and communicate the point clearly.

3. Jesus Crafted Memorable Sayings

Jesus spoke poetically. He often used catchy sayings and plays on words. This isn’t always apparent in English translations. However, in the original language, Jesus made it much easier for his listeners to remember what he said. For example, Jesus memorably said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.” (Luke 6:37-38a, ESV). 

Another great example is the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31). If you want to preach like Jesus, craft memorable statements. Make the main point easy to remember. If your people remember the message, they will be able to take it with them wherever they go.

4. Jesus Asked Questions

Rather than tell everyone the answer right away, Jesus used the Socratic Method. He led His audience to conclusions by asking a lot of questions. For examples check out Matthew 16:26, or 22:20-21, or look at this resource. Questions are a powerful teaching method, especially when teaching a hostile crowd (like unbelievers). Questions stimulate critical thinking. Asking good questions makes the audience hungry to find the answers. If you want to preach like Jesus, ask a lot of questions. Do not reveal the answer immediately. Help your audience use their own brains.

5. Jesus Used Object Lessons

Jesus often used object lessons to communicate to his audience. He washed the feet of the disciples to teach servant leadership (John 13:3-17). He called a little child to him to discuss childlike faith (Matthew 18:1-4). He described unselfish giving after watching a widow drop two small coins into the temple offering (Mark 12:41-44). 

When he told the parable of the sower, there is a good chance he was standing near a field. Visually communicated truth is far more powerful than mere stated truth. If you want to preach like Jesus, use objects lessons. Block out time in your sermon preparation to be creative. Think of ways to communicate your message visually.

6. Jesus Used Repetition

Jesus helped his audience learn His lessons by frequently repeating Himself. He taught the same major themes again and again. For example, Jesus spoke of his death and resurrection over and over again (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33–34), and the disciples still didn’t get it. Sometimes people need to hear something many times over before it fully sinks in. In addition, teachings that get repeated get remembered. If you want to preach like Jesus, repeat. Find the main point of your message and say it again and again, and don’t be afraid to preach on important subjects more than once a year.

If you want to be a better preacher, look no further than Jesus. 

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Jonathan Mbuna

commented on Feb 11, 2015

While I have used 4 of the six (naturally) I have not been mean in crafting memorable statements and shocking people! However, I have one preacher in mind who is richly blessed in these areas and this is my food for thought!

Jaison Koshy

commented on Feb 11, 2015

Rather than tell everyone the answer right away, Jesus used the Socratic Method? Just a correction, Jesus didn't use Socratic's method rather socratic used Jesus' method. I am just trying to elevate Jesus in every statements we as Pastors and teachers make. Hope you understand. Thank you!

Gerald Graham

commented on Feb 11, 2015

Thanks Tom for this insightful piece. I would add too that he tended not to use them all at once either. Beware of sermon overload...

Jonathan Hughes

commented on Feb 11, 2015

I will shock you. People break the following verses when a nude person is seen by by what people call a Minor. People breaks those verses when they hear of or see a zoosexual. The word Pedo makes them break those laws. Each individual needs to keep those laws.Galatians 5:14 - For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Romans 13:10: Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Hebrews 13:2 - Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 1 John 4:7:Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. Leviticus 19:18 - 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. 1 John 3:11 - 11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV). ,

Mark Aarssen

commented on Feb 26, 2015

Great article Thom! I know that there are methods here that I have used but there are others that I have never tried. You have given me some fresh perspective to apply.

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