In every church there are people who truly love to hear sermons, and others who probably just endure them. It is humbling to admit that nearly every week I receive both sentiments. Yet there is something truly glorious about the preaching of God’s Word. What makes preaching glorious? The glory of preaching is found in that it reveals the glory of God in the salvation and sanctification of His people.
While studying the prophets some years ago, I was amazed by a pattern in God’s calling of those who would proclaim His Word. Think for a moment about Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, even Paul. Each of these men, before receiving their commission, was in one fashion or another confronted by the glory of God (see Ex. 3; Isa. 6; Jer. 1; Ezek. 1; and Acts 9).
These men were either caught up into God’s presence, or God came down to meet them in most remarkable ways. He overwhelmed them with His glory. He arrested their attention, transformed their faith, and impressed upon their hearts an indelible imprint of the glory of God. From that point forward, they were changed men; not that they were perfect, but they would never be the same. They would always be marked by their encounter with the glory of God.
How did this affect their preaching? If we listen closely to what they subsequently said (preached), we will note that their encounter with the glory of God continued to inform their preaching. Their preaching was a divinely inspired means of revealing the glory of God to those who received their ministry. When Moses or Paul preached, it was not the “word of Moses” or “word of Paul” that was preached, but the very Word of God. Their sermons did not exalt, entertain, or even simply educate people, but brought them into vital contact with the piercing glory of God. God’s glory was to be revealed not only to God’s people but also in God’s people, and preaching was the means by which this happened.
When Jesus preached, the same could be said of Him. He came from the glorious presence of His Father. His commission was rooted in the glory of God, and His preaching was always focused on revealing God’s glory. He revealed the glory of God in His words and works, and He created expectations not only for those who preach but even for those who are preached to: both are to focus on the glory of God.
What do we expect from preaching? Do we crave cute stories about ourselves, or a gripping encounter with the glory of God and His all-sufficient gospel? Do we want to hear stories about the preacher or the story of the One who sent him to proclaim God’s glory? The more we come to church longing to catch a glimpse of the glory of God, the better our response will be to the preaching of God’s glorious Word.