October 2019

Good morning,

Imagine sitting front-row-center on a Galilean hillside during the original Messiah on Tour series. Settle in and prepare yourself for some great teaching from the young evangelist of Nazareth.

Notice how quiet it becomes as He takes His seat and begins to speak. Rabbinic students, eager to copy His style, cluster toward the front. His words are velvet. His mannerisms are completely natural, His postulations clear. Only the children move about as they strain to catch a better look.

If you can, free your eyes and gaze around. Study the audience as they drink from the fountain of living water. They're beaming. Their faces are alive as they lean forward to catch every chosen word.

But why? Why would a weary and hungry crowd, lacking both good seats and an adequate sound system yearn for more from this itinerant preacher?

Two things, really—a simple message of hope delivered in a listener-friendly style.

Now, don't be misled; a sermon by Jesus was never a-walk-in-the-park. He shot straight and would never fluff a message just to win an audience. Tickling the ears was not His style. While the Pharisees were exegeting the daylights out of The Law, Jesus was simply offering Good News.

The distinction was dramatic.

The Pharisees' modus operandi was entrapment, whereas Jesus offered freedom—they demanded confessions, He extended forgiveness.

The Pharisees' teaching resembled a museum lecture. But Jesus spoke of people and life and a personal and loving God.

The Pharisees had an attitude—they sought an audience. Jesus was fresh—the audience sought Him.

Jesus dared to use humor and tell stories, and to speak of His Father in friendly terms. Grins became a staple at His meetings. No wonder attendance soared and His enemies worried.

Throughout history, songwriters, artists and historians have limited the Savior to an Isaiah 53 snapshot … with good reason, too. Isaiah's prophetic words of "despised, forsaken, pierced, crushed, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, punished by God," serve as an "R" rating for a truly violent crucifixion scene.

That cruel day, more than any other, tells of God's love for me. It's something I'll never deserve. Nor will I ever forget.

But neither will I forget how He was the toast of every party, a lure for every kid. He was a magnet to the masses. He brought comfort to women and was a model for men. He loved the pitiful and they loved him back. Sinners were always welcomed. Tears of repentance were never out of place. Crowds traveled great distances to see Him. No credentials or appointments were ever required. Even His critics couldn't stay away.

His gentleness was overpowering. His simplicity was overwhelming.

His preaching was devoid of glitter and pretense. His effortless words were divine, and so was His style. Not surprisingly, the people were amazed at His teaching, "For He spoke as one having authority and not as the scribes."

He used descriptive picture-words as filters to remove any doubt as to His meaning. When He said, "I am the light of the world," or "I am the good shepherd," no one misread Him. Neither did they miss the oxymoron—"You blind guides"—when He confronted the Pharisees.

His simple message of hope and His listener-friendly style was a real crowd pleaser. They loved what they heard and they wanted more. The ecclesiastical fog had cleared as the people finally realized God's enormous offer of help.

Jesus intentionally spoke in everyman's language so that none would be confused. After all, what good was God's once-for-all offer if no one could understand the gift? Grace needed a spokesman because, more than anything else, grace should not be difficult to understand.

That's why, whenever the Messiah engaged the people, He spoke of hope in a listener-friendly style.



Ron Walters
Senior Vice President
Ministry Relations

© Copyright 2019 by Ron Walters

Ron Walters