The Messenger

"Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks." John 7:46

From his earliest days of ministry, the message Jesus delivered didn't build a consensus, it split the house. When He arrived in Jerusalem, the people who heard Him speak were divided by what they heard Him say. He said it anyway.

"So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him." John 7:43

Given the task of seizing Jesus, by the religious leaders of the day, the officers of the court were mesmerized by what they heard. They returned to their rulers empty handed. When they showed up without Jesus, they were accused of having become converts to His message.

"You have not also been led astray, have you?" John 7:47

False accusation and intimidation are at one and the same time the twin towers of refuge and siege weapons of tyrants. These men were the religious elite who claimed right standing before God, and paraded their righteousness before men. They were not about to give up their turf to a vagabond prophet from the sticks of Galilee.

"Search and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee." John 7:52

These religious leaders were appearing to be honest brokers in the search of the Scriptures. They were not suggesting a thorough search of the Scriptures be made to find out if The Messiah had any roots in Galilee. They were making an ominous prophecy that Jesus was not going to be allowed to build a following on their watch. Jesus knew they meant to kill Him.

"He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him." John 7:1

These religious leaders would be true to their word, regardless of what The Word said. Jesus would have to go, if they were going to stay. Man-made religion must always snuff out any spark of a God-given relationship, if it is to survive.

The preacher is not a communicator who seeks to build a crowd or a consensus. Catering to the audience, searching for applause and approval of his speech is the motivation of a communicator, not a messenger. The preacher is a messenger of The Gospel, The Good News, delivering a God-sent message. He resists every temptation to water it down to make it easier to swallow.

The preacher, as the herald of the king, was one of the earliest pictures I was given of preaching. Dr. Harold Freeman, Professor of Preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, made it clear that preaching was not a matter of putting together a sermon or a speech, but it was all about delivering a message. Thanks Dr. Freeman.

The herald of the king would be handed a document, a horse, and a trumpet. He was to ride the horse into the town squares of the cities surrounding the palace, blow the trumpet and read what the king had given him. The messenger was not to vary from the script, ad lib or embellish the message. He was to deliver it.

Dr. Freeman's training included the question: "What do you intend for people to do as a result of what they hear you say?" Great question. Preaching today seems to have lost the intensity of intentionality. It is more about glorifying the personality of the communicator than it is about delivering a message from The King. When the fog of the personality of the messenger dims the view of The King, the messenger has been unfaithful to his commission.

Preaching must not deteriorate to the level of a communicator trying to connect with his audience. When it does, a preacher becomes an embarrassment. Posing as a mouse that roared is a poor substitute for the messenger of The Lion of Judah.

When people heard Jesus speak, it was life-changing, not heart-warming. Jesus spoke with power, authority and passion drawn from having His will forged into The King's will, in the furnace of prayer. Jesus never wavered from His mission, because He never wandered away from intimacy with His Father. Prayer was the arena in which His heart was melted and then pounded into The Father's heart, until the two could not be distinguished, one from the other.

The practice of prayer never allows for script changes to The Message. It creates heart changes in the life of the messenger. Jesus prayed, and God released His power through Him, as He delivered the message of The Father.

When Jesus delivered the Sermon on The Mount, The Constitution of The Kingdom, he used a unique phrase that set Him apart from the other rabbis of His day. He would say, "You have heard it said...BUT, I say to you." No one had ever spoken like this before. He was not shoring up His argument or message with quotes from other rabbis. He was placing more emphasis on connecting with The King, than making connection with His audience or key men. Big difference.

No wonder Jesus made such an impression on these officers sent to seize Him. Hearing Jesus speak must have been like a breath of fresh air, after having served as deputies in the court of The Sanhedrin. They were used to the kind of arrogance that can only be generated by great learning.

A keen mind with a cold heart can be a vicious instrument. On the other hand, a hot heart with an empty head is no bargain. Jesus had a keen mind, filled with understanding of The Word of God and a hot heart stirred by The Will of God, His message was fanned into flame by His intimacy with the Father. through prayer. His fire brought heat and light. The messengers of Jesus should always bring both.

No man had ever spoken like Jesus before. It was not a result of eloquence or education that gave Him connection with the hearts of those who heard Him. It was His connection with The Father who sent Him to deliver His message to them. The messengers of Jesus would do well to remember His source of power.