Summary: A story that telss the big story. A very unusual type sermon but one that my congregation responded to very well
The message that I will preach today is likely one of the most unusual you will ever hear me preach. I generally am the kind of preacher that uses a title and an outline and I usually try to stay somewhere near a homiletical style of preaching. You know 3 or 4 points and poem, stand and be dismissed, etc. Well today I’m going to tell you a story that tells the story. If we were going to give it a title it would have to be “Easter Preach-Off”, so let’s get started.
It was Good Friday at a little-known preacher training college. In celebration of and in conjunction with Passion Week and Easter they decided to have a “preach-off”. Now this is to preachers what a “Battle of the Bands” is to musicians. It was an opportunity to hone their preaching skills. It was to be kind of an all-day affair. Each preacher was allotted a certain amount of time to preach and each one would, no doubt, preach his very best sermon on the life or death or burial or resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
The first one got up. He was a little bit nervous at first, but very soon he settled down and proceeded to preach about the intense love of God that motivated Him to send His only begotten Son to Earth to become a sacrifice for all the sins of humanity. He started with I John 4:8-10 he read:
. . . . God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
He talked about the sacrifice motivated by Love and he talked about the characteristics of God’s kind of love. He stopped by 1 Corinthians 13 and reviewed for the audience the attributes of this Agape Love.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
As he expounded on each of these attributes he then quickly got back on the subject as he went to John 3:16:
16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[f] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
He explained in some great detail this best-known and most-loved verse of the entire New Testament. With power and conviction he brought the truth of this great verse down to the level that even the smallest child in the audience could fully understand. As he preached, his fellow preachers were held spell bound and you could hear them shouting, “Amen” and “Glory to God” and “Hallelujah” and “yes” and “alright” and from one side you could hear somebody yelling “Preach!” and just about anything you ever heard in church you could have heard there that day.
He soared as he preached the everlasting truth about the Love of God that motivated God and His son Jesus to devise such a wonderful plan of redemption. Toward the end of his allotted time he sort of came back down to earth and he read in the 3rd chapter of 1 John:
1Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: . . . 2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
And he closed with a rousing discussion of the 2nd coming of Christ and the purifying hope that Jesus is coming again. And as he walked back to his seat the congregation applauded and praised God for the wonderful message.
Now don’t forget this is a “preach-off” and so the moderator of the contest reminded everybody to fill out their scorecard for this first message. He gave them a minute or two to write out their comments and then he introduced the second preacher.
The second preacher contestant walked slowly to the pulpit and as he did he bowed his head and prayed and as he prayed he began to preach through his prayer. He started in Genesis and worked his way through the Old and New Testaments all the way to Revelations, praying/preaching about the Messiah. After he said amen, he announced that his sermon title would be “The Suffering Savior”. He started in the 53rd chapter of Isa and he read: