Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3610

Jump Start # 3610

Matthew 5:2 “And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying”

  I love depth of knowledge. I’m one who reads footnotes and will check references at the back of a book. I love sitting and learning from someone who connects the dots from the O.T. through the N.T. Their insight has filled my Bible with underlined words, notations in the margins and pages of notes that I have taken. Having preached all these years, I’m amazed at how some so much younger than I am can see things that I never have. I’m thankful for their knowledge of words and ancient times.

  But, there is another side to this that we must realize as well. Those that have studied the languages of the Bible, will tell you that the language Jesus spoke was not classical Greek but Koine, the language of the people. And, when one walks through the sermon on the mount, one doesn’t need a dictionary in one hand to figure out what our Lord was saying. For instance, when Jesus said in Matthew 5:38, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” Jesus doesn’t tell us what book of the Bible that is found, nor the historical background of that expression or even an explanation of what it means. He states it and then adds His, “I say to you,” part.

  I doubt anyone could have dropped the nets into knowledge deeper than Jesus could have. But many, many times, if not most times, He didn’t. There is something about practical living. There is something about those who are living on the front line of faith that just need to get through the day. Hope. Trust. Faith. Promise are the tools that are essential for our walk with the Lord.

  Does this mean that we ought to toss academia and dumb down and water down what we teach and preach? No. Absolutely not. But let us remember that our audience is not those who spend the day studying the words of God. Found among us are truck drivers and nurses and school teachers and house moms and accountants. They are far, far from dumb, but what they need are the tools to live for Jesus day to day. Depth without application and practical value is nothing more than knowledge. It is wisdom, the application of knowledge that takes principles off of the pages of the Bible and are lived within our lives.

  Spoon feeding audiences doesn’t help them to grow. Just like at home, there is a time for that when the child is young. But, when that child can start feeding himself, progress is made. Equipping the saints leads to a strong and mature church.

  So, here are a few of my thoughts (and they are just that—my thoughts):

  First, it is good to provide balance within the teaching program of a congregation. Bring in those preachers that have a lot of depth. That’s good. But, the church also needs heart felt, passionate preaching that is practical, simple and something they can find application in their everyday lives.

  The Lord chose Peter. The Lord also chose Paul. Peter and Paul were very different. The kingdom needed both. It is good to have both today. Depth, knowledge, practicality, wisdom—balance. Wise shepherds will recognize the need for balance. Not all classes need to be textual. Neither do all classes need to be topical. Is one better than the other? No. Both are necessary.

  Second, while we may like Peter more than Paul or Paul more than Peter, don’t discourage either nor try to change one into the other. Both are necessary. Find the best use of talents and ability and do what you can for the kingdom. Truth be, if you really try, you can learn and benefit from both.

  Third, never forget who your audience is. That is true if you are preaching, teaching a class, talking to your kids, or having a one-on-one conversation with someone. Notice Jesus in John 3 with Nicodemus, a skilled Jewish teacher. Turn a page, and notice Jesus with the Samaritan woman in John 4. Not the same approach. She was not in the same place that Nicodemus was.

  There are times to lower those nets into the depth of knowledge. But there are also times to pull those nets up into shallower waters. Knowing your audience is the key. One can get a good picture from just talking to people. Don’t assume that everyone knows the story of Daniel and the lion’s den. They don’t. They assume that everyone knows that Genesis is the first book of the Bible. They don’t. Now, some can tell you what the word “genesis” means. Others are flipping pages, looking for Genesis. Be patient and start where your listeners are. That’s what Jesus did.

  He began to teach them, saying…