Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ: Telling God's Story, Narrative Analysis

By Ed Clowney

Example of Narrative Preaching from Matthew 17:1-9
Christ is the one with greater authority than Moses and Elijah. God the Father affirms His authority by saying ‘hear Him’. The Father’s declaration proves the Father’s unity with Him. The Son declares the will of the Father. Moses brought to us what God said to him, Christ is the incarnate word, God’s word become flesh, He is God speaking.
Christ speaks and the dead comes forth, His own sheep hear Him and they follow Him.

The preacher’s task is to bring into remembrance the words that Jesus spoke. The congregation are to hear the message and hear Christ speaking through the preacher. The glory of God is made evident through Christ.

Peter suggests building shelters for Jesus, Moses and Elijah thinking that this was the last feast of booths.

The glory of the true tabernacle is shown at transfiguration.

Christ comes to do his true work of conquest. Overcoming the Devil’s temptation whereby he offered Christ all kingdoms on top of the mountain in the wilderness. Now Christ is showing his royal conquering glory at the top of a different mount.

Moses was willing to die with Israel- have his own name blotted out. Moses was a mediator. Elijah also was a mediator calling down fire from heaven and hearing God’s quiet whispering voice. Christ is a better mediator, the eternal mediator between God and man.

Christ did not use His royal power to save Himself. He didn’t ask for legions of angels to take him down from the cross. He used His royal power to save us.

We need to hear Him in our lives so others will hear Him in our preaching.

Tips on Telling Bible Stories
1) Get the story right
You don’t know the stories you think you know! Record yourself telling the story without the Bible to see if you actually understand the story.

2) Use definition by contrast
We understand a concept by describing what the concept is not as well as what the concept is. Ask these questions:
What is most like this?
What is most different to what is most like this?

3) Ask: what actually happened?
List the events in the passage.


4) Do not take direct quotations and turn them into personal prose.

5) Is the theme of the narrative indicated in the text?
Sometimes we are told the theme of the text indirectly through hints in the text. Watch for clues and labels. Ask why places are named such. Many OT stories are identified by the name given to a place or person (Eg Hosea’s children from Hosea 1).

6) The text must be understood in its setting

7) Use Bible Dictionaries and Atlas’ to Establish Original Context

8) Use vivid realism
Visualise the story, paint the picture of the story, speak about was felt, seen, heard and experienced.

9) Tell stories suggestively
Use repetition (especially for children).

10) Stay with the main structure of the story

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