Nearly three years ago, I began preaching through the Gospel of John. Along the way, something interesting happened—I found myself using far less sermon illustrations than I had in the past when preaching other genres of Scripture. It wasn’t by design—at least not as part of a purposeful plan that I had going into John—it just sort of happened. More often than not, I simply found myself preaching passages in John which just didn’t seem to “need” an illustration.
In retrospect, I realize there is probably an underlying reason for this. If one of the purposes of sermon illustrations is to turn that which is abstract into something concrete—to turn your listeners’ ears into eyes and help them see what you’re saying—it simply makes sense that illustrations would be needed less frequently when preaching narrative material. After all, most passages in the Gospels and other narrative books are already concrete, and the best way to help your listeners see what you’re saying is to simply preach what is there.