In church world we have done a good job of helping people to know about Jesus’ three years of ministry two millennia ago, but a lousy job of helping people to know that that same Jesus is praying for them today.
There are some obvious ways in which the idea of connecting might relate to preaching. We could think about connecting the world of the Bible with the world of today’s listeners. Or we could think about connecting God’s will with our lives – sort of a “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” idea. We could even move things down to a more practical level and think about connecting preacher with listeners, or biblical truths with relevant applications. But in this post I am not doing any of these.
In preaching we get to make connections that are theologically critical, but typically remain separated in the minds of most believers. How about these three to get us started:
1. Connect the cross of Christ with the life of Christ.
Too easily we can think of Jesus’ life and ministry as being somehow distinct from the cross. It is as if the cross was a necessary but difficult diversion from what he was previously doing in his healing and teaching ministry. So, we can think of Jesus as a great example and leader in his ministry, but as a victim of malevolent human agency on the cross. Actually, the character that is constantly showing in his encounters with hurting people is the character that is presented in stark relief in the hours of extreme hurt on the cross.
The cross is not a distasteful interruption to his ministry of revealing God’s character to us – it is actually the moment of greatest clarity. It is that humble Jesus, that selfless Jesus, that giving Jesus that is constantly doing his revelatory work. That is true beside the Sea of Galilee, as it is true beside the road in his crucifixion. As a preacher we get to reconnect that which should never have become separated – the life of Christ from the death of Christ.