So my wife and I are driving south along I-85, scanning the radio stations for something worthwhile to listen to on a Sunday afternoon. And we came across a preacher – a Baptist, we learned at the end of his message – we came across him in the middle of his sermon. From the way he spoke – his vocabulary and his manner of delivery – I conjured an image of many of the preachers Nancy and I sat under during our three decades in evangelical churches. There was nothing erudite about his delivery, or for that matter, what he said. But, oh! He captured our attention.
“Thank God for Jesus.” He repeated that phrase again and again during the several minutes we listened to him.
He reminded his congregation, “Jesus came as a baby and lived 33 years so that He could die for your sins and my sins. Thank God for Jesus.”
“He was glad to do what He did because of His great love for you and me. Thank God for Jesus.” Then he asked his congregation, “Do you thank God for Jesus?”
Nancy and I heard a few voices in the congregation call out, ‘Amen,” and “Yes, we do.”
Then he said, speaking out of what I recognized was chapter 16 of St. Matthew’s gospel, “Jesus said to the people, ‘Who do you say that I am? And some said Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” And then Jesus looked at His disciples and said: ‘But who do YOU say that I am?”
The preacher paused a moment and then continued to paraphrase from the text: “Peter said, you are the Christ, the Son of God.” And Jesus said to him, “You are blessed, Simon, son of John, because flesh and blood did not reveal that to you, but my Father in heaven revealed it to you.”
“Thank God for Jesus,” the preacher said again. And then to his congregation he asked, “Has God revealed who Jesus is to you? Are you a child of God? Is Jesus your Lord?”
He continued, “Do you know of Jesus because your preacher told you about Jesus? Do you know about Jesus because your parents told you about Jesus? Or do you know Jesus because God told you about Jesus?”
“Do you thank God for Jesus?”
A few moments later, his simple sermon ended.
We turned off the radio and talked about what we’d just heard. The preacher, simple as his message seemed to be, reminded me of what the very erudite St. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth: “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).
This Christmas, as we open the gifts set for us under the tree, Oh, may God help us reflect on the gift He gave us: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
And, please God, help us say from our hearts, “Thank God for Jesus.”