Matthew R. Perry

When a Good Sermon Turns Ugly (Introduction)

In Preaching, Sermons on February 4, 2008 at 11:58 am

(This sermon was preached on Sunday, February 3, 2008, at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. To listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here.)

On September 20, 1991, television history was made. In 1990, the Phil Donahue show ended it’s 20+ year run, but another talk show came on the scene in hopes of filling that time slot. The talk show host had a great political background. He began as a political campaign aide to Robert F. Kennedy. He earned a Juris Doctorate from Northwestern University. He joined a prestigious law firm in Cincinnati. In 1979, we served a one-year term as mayor of Cincinnati. After making an attempt and losing the Democratic bid for governor of Ohio, his political career seemed derailed. After going into a broadcast career, he was soon the most popular news anchor in Cincinnati, ending each episode with the catch phrase, “Take care of yourself, and each other.”

When he received his opportunity for a national talk show, he brought in guest to discuss political issues such as homelessness and gun control. When his ratings were poor, he sought ways to appeal to a wider audience. And thus, what we know now as the Jerry Springer Show took flight.

Now, what is Jerry Springer’s talk show known for? Obviously, it’s crass, dealing with issues such as infidelity, etc. But what usually happens? Someone starts fighting — reacting violently to what someone has said.

Let me ask you: could you see anyone reacting violently to someone faithfully preaching the Word? I could see someone reacting that way if the preacher was preaching heresy. But what about faithfully preaching the Word? Could you see there every being a time when fists rather than handshakes greeted the preacher?

This morning, we will be looking at Luke 4:14-30 at when a good sermon turns oh so ugly. And considering who the preacher is, we may find ourselves surprised. But the truth is this: When Jesus Christ is faithfully preached, he often causes greatest offense to those who should be closest to him. Let’s read:

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. [15] And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
[16] And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. [17] And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

[18] “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
[19] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
[20] And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. [21] And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” [22] And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” [23] And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” [24] And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. [25] But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, [26] and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. [27] And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” [28] When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. [29] And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. [30] But passing through their midst, he went away (Luke 4:14-30, ESV).

As you read through this passage, you see a particular progression in their response to Jesus, don’t you? Since King Solomon wisely said that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), we see that even 2,000 years ago people respond the same way to Jesus’ preaching as they do now. The question is, how do you respond?

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  1. […] Lexington, KY. To listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here. You can also read over the Introduction , Part I and Part […]

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