My new church has been studying the book of Mark each Sunday. They are getting close to finishing the book, but Sarah and I started attending right at the beginning of the passion narrative. I remember my Greek professor in college saying something about how the passion narrative is really the main part of each of the four gospels. Everything else in each book is just the prologue. So I guess we started attending at the right time.
Who knows how many sermons I have heard in my life? In college I heard some sort of sermon preached AT LEAST once a day. On Sundays I heard three sermons. Considering that the passion narrative is pretty central to Christianity, I have heard countless sermons preached on all the various events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. There are often good insights preached, but generally speaking the sermons are not drastically different from one another. They all bring out the same kinds of points and inferences.
At my new church, the last two Sundays I have heard parts of this narrative preached in ways I have never heard before. In talking about Jesus’ betrayal, the pastor talked about loneliness. Jesus was left all alone in the garden as Judas and the mob came and took Jesus. The pastor focused on the loneliness experienced by Jesus in the Garden and then made application to when we feel lonely, thinking about contemporary life situations that make us feel lonely and how we can deal with such times. After the sermon I turned to my wife and told her that in all the sermons I have heard, I have never heard a sermon about loneliness.
This past week was particularly interesting to me because he talked about what it means to stand alone. As Jesus was brought to trial by the Jewish leaders of the time, Jesus found himself standing alone amongst people who wanted him dead. He preached a whole sermon with applications about what it means to stand alone. Not fighting, not fleeing, but standing firm. It was once again a topic that I have never heard preached before.
I’ve definitely been enjoying the preaching style of my new pastor (which was a concern of mine before attending our new church because I loved the way my previous pastor spoke and preached). But, it is only helping me question the value of only preaching expositionally.