Before You Preach Gospel Narratives

As preachers, we often think of the Gospels as being the most basic and easy books of the Bible to preach. How hard is it to walk through a narrative about the life and ministry of Jesus? Don't let the narrative fool you. The truth is, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are some of the most difficult texts to interpret and preach properly--especially John.

As a pastor, I've put this off for a long time because I know the depth and difficulty of the theology presented in John. But, compelled to know Christ as a congregation, we are about to begin twenty-one studies in John. While a slower pace and smaller pericopes is appealing, an exposition of John's Gospel from a broad and high perspective may help avoid the dangers associated with preaching narratives.  D.A. Carson is helpful in thinking carefully about the task at hand:

"The challenge of preaching from the Gospels is, in part, the challenge of preaching from narrative. The best of Western seminaries and theological colleges reinforce the cultural bent toward the abstract, and fill students’ heads with the importance of grammatical, lexicographical exegesis. Such exegesis is, of course, of enormous importance. But in students who do not have a feel for literature, it can have the unwitting effect of so focusing on the tree, indeed on the third knot of the fourth branch from the bottom of the sixth tree from the left, that the entire forest remains unseen, except perhaps as a vague and ominous challenge. The antidote is to direct attention to the narrative—not only the narrative of the entire Gospel, but each narrative within it."

Lord, help me to show your people the grand forest of the glory of Christ displayed in The Gospel According to John.