Why Did Jesus Come?

Part Four: He Came To Preach
By Shereen Ghobrial

And He said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And He went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. —Mark 1:38-39 ESV

A remarkable attribute of Christianity in the twenty-first century is the spread of megachurches. A simple definition of a megachurch is any local Protestant church that has a weekly attendance of 2,000 or more. If we go back to the 1950s, we could count 2-3 megachurches, but now there are many. One characteristic of megachurches is that their growth is directly related to a “good” preacher. We use “good” in quotes because that is the description made by man, not necessarily God.

The objective of this discussion is not to study megachurches. Instead, we desire to highlight the importance of preaching and see from the Bible points about the style and message of the greatest preacher: the Lord Jesus.

The Preacher Versus The Message
Which is more important, the preacher or the message he is preaching? There are arguments for both viewpoints. On one hand, what impacts people and changes their lives is the message they hear. On the other hand, if the preacher is not skilled and knowledgeable enough, then his message may not reach the hearers.

God has preached a very long sermon during the course of human history. He is the perfect preacher, giving one idea or revelation at a time. The focus and object of God’s message is the same: the Son of God and His work on the cross. God started this sermon in the garden of Eden, where He clothed Adam and Eve with skins from an animal sacrifice to show the need of a substitute. The message continued growing by revealing that the Substitute would be provided by God, as Abraham had learned when offering Isaac. Later, as the Israelites learned from the Passover lamb, the Substitute must be perfect. Many other revelations are found on the pages of the Old Testament as well.

The ultimate revelation was when God took the form of a man and came to this earth. He is named Jesus, and He revealed to us everything we can know about God. In Him we see God’s love – as much as we can understand. We also see in Him God’s hatred of sin, His power over nature, and His mercy to the poor, sick and needy. Through Jesus we realize God’s wisdom in finding a solution to the problem of sin and know the divine plan to bring sinful people to eternal glory by saving them “by the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20).

If we consider God’s revelations and messages throughout history as one sermon, the main theme is Jesus.

Jesus’ Preaching Strategy
What was Jesus’ preaching strategy? Did He use teams to prepare crusades, or stadiums and conference centers? What marketing incentives did He utilize?

I am sure we can easily answer these questions as we look on the pages of the four Gospels. He gave messages on a mountain, from a ship, and in a crowded house. The Lord’s messages were spontaneous and triggered by people’s questions or the need that He saw in them (Mt. 9:36, 14:14; Mk. 6:34). His team consisted of 12 men – mostly fishermen with no marketing experience. Some of His disciples were hated by Jewish society, such as Matthew the tax collector. One can argue that Jesus had a good tactic of attracting people by providing food, but Jesus Himself rebuked that practice (Jn. 6:26-27).

When looking at the different occasions of the Lord’s preaching we see Him speaking to crowds of hundreds and thousands as well as to just one Samaritan woman. What was His guidance in picking His audience? It was simply to obey the Father’s will (4:34) – a will that does not focus on numbers.

The Lord Jesus spent over 33 years on earth, but only preached during the last three years. During His public ministry He spent most of His time with His 12 disciples, rather than in public healing and teaching. In this we see a few lessons in ministry:

  • Plans should always be guided by the Father’s will, not by any human ambition of having more services or a bigger audience.
  • Success should not be measured by what people think, but how God values our motives and efforts. The Lord Jesus was the best preacher, but He only impacted a few hundred individuals, as seen at the end of His ministry (Acts 1:15; 1 Cor. 15:6). Yet, He was able to tell the Father that He had finished all the work the Father had given Him to do (Jn. 17:4).
  • For a lasting impact it might be best to spend more time with fewer individuals or to utilize a private setting. The Lord spent most of His time with His disciples, and most of them went on to change the face of history as available tools of the Holy Spirit.

Comparison With Other Preachers
One attribute of Jesus’ preaching is the fact “He was teaching them as One who had authority, and not as their scribes” (Mt. 7:29). He was unique in this, for He was the living Word, the true expression of God Himself. We can only model Him in that aspect, by preaching the written Word, the Bible. Similarly, John the Baptist, coming before Jesus, preached about the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29). Only Jesus had the authority to say, “You have heard … but I say to you …” (Mt. 5:21-23,27-28,33-34,38-39,43-44).

The Pharisees were the most respected preachers at Jesus’ time; however, they were preaching ideas they did not live out (Mt. 23:1-3). The Lord Jesus was a great preacher because He practiced what He taught. To be accurate, He taught what He practiced (Acts 1:1). The best message we can minister to people is through what we do – even more than what we say. Let us keep this point in mind as we preach in this world, waiting eagerly to be with Him.

Look for part 5 next month.