Preaching at what level?

scribe.2So the message last week was based on Matthew 12:15-21 – Servant King

Someone after the message, more or less implied that this kind of preaching is a bit over the heads of people.

Now I did adapt an academic paper on the use of Isaiah 42 in Matthew 12 for this message.

Yet, I adapted it to a more popular level.

It was not a story or testimony, but an exploration of the ministry of Jesus seen through this lens.

Is this too deep?  I don’t think so, but then each week I have already spent a week with the sermon.

How hard or easy should a sermon be?

Should it stretch our thinking?

Should add a few more polishing strokes to the smooth stones in our minds,

Or add a new rough piece that will need some time and thought to accommodate to our thinking?

Matthew 12, Isaiah 42 and a visit to the Library

scribe.2I chased down a footnote regarding the use of Isaiah 42:1-4 in Matthew 12.  It is the longest citation in Matthew, who is usually quite economical in his quotes.  So why quote the whole section from the first Servant Song in Isaiah?

The footnote sent me to find  Jerome H. Neyrey’s article in the journal Biblica, volume 63.  The author shows that the citation has a number of contacts with the entire chapter, and is not simply related to the fact that Jesus chose to withdraw from a center of controversy, as the conflict between Jesus and the religious authorities grew.  Another author, also found at the library search, suggests that Matthew 12:15-21 serves as an interlude that speaks broadly to the nature of Jesus ministry as Messiah.  The Messiah as Servant.  (Douglas R. A. Hare, Matthew, John Knox, 1993).

Here are Neyrey’s 8 points of contact, note I have recast this for non technical readers.

1,  Servant/son {Matthew’s quote uses “pais“} – followed immediately by the question of whether Jesus is the Son of David, or a servant of Beelzebul.

2.  My Spirit – followed by the extended discussion of a house divided – 12:25-28

3. Preaching to Nations, followed by examples of Jonah, Niniveh, Solomon, The Queen of the south(v. 39-42) and who is his kinsman (v. 46-50)

4. Not Quarreling – refusing to give a sign in 12:38-39

5.  Not Listening – 10:16-19, 12:38-42, 13:13-15

6.  Healing {bruised reed and smoldering wick} 12:9-13 {and chapters 8-9}

7.  Judgment/Justice {“krisis”}- followed by warnings of future judgment for Blasphemy against the Spirit (12:30-33), Good Words (12:33-37) and Sign seekers (v. 39-42)

8.  Name –  with numerous names for Jesus – 12:8{Son of Man}, 23{Son of David}, 31-32, 40 and throughout Matthew.

For my preaching purposes I have created a summary sentence.  Yep, it looks like a 6 point sermon this week.

Jesus is

God’s Chosen

Spirit filled

Messenger

Who is a Gentle

yet Firm

Hope for all people.