“And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, ” (Luke 4:42–5:1, ESV)
Why did the Creator of the universe reduce Himself to take on the likeness of sinful flesh in the person of Jesus Christ? Some say it was so that God could show His love for us. There is a large element of truth in that statement. But it is not sufficient. We’ll see that in more detail later. Some say it was because God could not communicate to us any other way. And while communication again is a part of the answer – thinking that God could not communicate to us so as to be understood any other way ignores the whole of the Bible prior to Christ’s incarnation, the experiences of the many recorded in its pages with whom God did communicate quite effectively, and more importantly, seems to slight God’s ability on the very face of it. There has to be more. Indeed there is. And it is captured magnificently in the reasons Jesus Himself told us were behind His coming. Consider then our text today as the second place where Jesus explicitly explains His arrival – “I must preach the news of the kingdom of God…for I was sent for this purpose.”
In today’s techno-world, preaching is considered pretty passé by most, even by many in the Church. It is antiquated. People (we are told) don’t want to listen to lectures or sermons. Which, may or may not be true. Preaching is not thought to be a particularly effective means of communication. It can be, and often is – boring. Though it need not necessarily be so. Odd then, in human terms, that this would take such an important place in Jesus’ ministry. Strange that he would say He was explicitly “sent” to preach.
It seems to me that preaching is especially well suited to God’s purposes however. First, its cheap. It doesn’t cost a lot for someone to preach. Second, it can be done virtually anywhere. No special equipment is needed, and no special arrangements for the most part. This would have been especially true in the time and place where Jesus ministered. Third, it is a public means of communicating. The message can be heard by a large group at once. But perhaps most importantly, it is humbling. This, is an essential aspect of the Gospel message itself. One must humbly submit to what is not flashy, catchy, stylistically engaging or attractive in and of itself. It admits of no deference to the elite versus the common, the rich over the poor or the intelligent over the less gifted. It robs people of thinking themselves special or better than others. Salvation is found in believing the simple preached message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Of God’s kingdom arriving and being inaugurated with Christ as its king.
The context here makes this all the more compelling. On the heels of having spent the evening prior healing the sick, casting out demons and performing other wonders – Jesus says THIS, preaching the kingdom is MORE important than them all. No wonder the Apostle Paul would later say: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” ” (Romans 10:14–15, ESV)
If such preaching of the kingdom is so important and central to Jesus’ own conception of His mission – what place ought to have in our hearts, minds and labors in the Church?
He came – that we might hear the Gospel, and be saved. He came to preach. Praise Him!