Note: This post is part one in a six-part series on how the book of Jude demonstrates qualities of a good sermon.
As I studied the book of Jude recently, I realized that although an epistle, Jude demonstrates several qualities of a good sermon. Over the course of six posts, I hope to elaborate on how Jude starts with a humble introduction, presents a unified thesis, illustrates his point through biblical examples and natural analogies, makes application, and draws to a God-glorifying conclusion.
As I have preached in various places, I have noticed that the more the introduction focuses on what degrees I have obtained or what books I have written, the greater the barrier with the congregation. Whenever someone simply introduces me as a friend or someone who loves the Lord, then the audience identifies with me sooner. In fact, at men’s conferences or sports banquets, I have asked that they not use titles such as “Dr.” Following a few introductions, I felt the need to start off by saying, “I am just a country preacher saved by grace” in order to connect with the audience. Many audiences just want to know that you are one of them and that you don’t look down on them by thinking that you are a better person. An introduction will create barriers or help connect you to the audience.
As I recently studied the book of Jude, his humble introduction caught my attention. The text states:
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. (ESV)
Jude states he is the brother of James but notice that he does not state he is the half brother of Jesus. Now let’s be honest about this. Jude holds the trump card. In modern society, he pastors the mega-church, has written the New York Times best seller, and has been named Preacher of the Year by all the magazines. He could have started off, “I’m related to the Creator of the universe, your Creator, so listen up before I put my big brother on you.” Yet, he doesn’t mention the kinship to Jesus in his introduction.
Perhaps we can learn from Jude’s wisdom here. While he could claim to be the half brother of the Son of God, he instead introduces himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. It matters not how many degrees we have obtained, how many books we have written, how many members attend the churches where we serve or what letters follow our names. What matters most is whom we serve. A simple introduction may create a connection that helps you succeed in your primary assignment—communicating the Word of God.
I hope you will think intentionally about how you introduce others and how you want to be introduced. May we be known more by the God we serve than what “we” have done, and may we identify with the words of John the Baptist, “I must decrease so that He may increase.”
In the next post, we will look at the big idea of the sermon, central idea of the text, fallen condition focus, or if you are writing a paper … the thesis statement. Jude sets an admirable example for us there as well.