When you preach from the Gospels or Acts, you begin with textual material that is engaging by nature. As preachers, we pray that we don’t get in the way by making powerful, interesting stories anemic and boring (Carter, Duvall, Hayes, Preaching God’s Word, 188).
Preaching NT narrative has received short shrift amongst those who write and talk about preaching. Look up at your bookshelf right now and try to find a volume that is completely devoted to preaching OT narrative. I see a few and some are very good. Now look up again and try to find a single volume dedicated to preaching NT narrative. It’s not there. Did someone take it and not bring it back? No, it has never been written. Trust me, I’ve looked like you wouldn’t believe. Some volumes look like they may fit the bill with titles that include phrases like “narrative preaching” but that’s another beast entirely. Some may have some self-published volume from the 1970’s but I haven’t seen that either. In the end, no one can readily think of a single book dedicated to preaching NT narrative that has been in print since most of us have been alive.
I’m not a pollster but I suspect that many fresh out of seminary types immediately begin their preaching ministry with a series in one of the epistles (I did). They then preach a series about the church and then return to preach another epistle. Call it a hunch but I suspect it’s close to the truth. Then there is another side of this thought where many seasoned neo-puritans spend long hours preaching narrative portions of Scripture because they are all about “finding something redemptive in the story.” However, after listening to many of these so-called redemptive-historical sermons I can report from the front lines that they make Harry Houdini look like a toddler. Some preachers can magically make Jesus appear in the slightest mention of wood, water, or blood in the text. I don’t care how much one preaches about “social justice” or uses the word “gospel” as an adjective, the preacher does not have the right to make a narrative say whatever the home office in New York has dictated.
The positive side to all this is that I know many expositors who are seeking to faithfully preach NT narrative every week. I have been preaching Matthew for the last five years and know many men who have recently been in all the Gospels and Acts. I have no idea how long we will do this but I want to do whatever I can to aid expositors in understanding and proclaiming NT narrative more effectively. Today we begin a series that has been in the making for some time, “Preaching NT Narrative” (over time you will be able to find the series under the new category “preaching NT narrative”). Come back and enjoy the ride.