Flood the Passage with Questions
Recently, when preparing a sermon from John 21:9-14, a young preacher working on the same text, asked me my approach and how I planned to arrange the sermon.
I really wanted to send him an outline and/or the entire manuscript. But he seriously desires to learn and grow in the craft, so I sent him the following. I wanted him to wrestle with the text. It is a list of questions that came to my mind before, during, and even after I typed out a manuscript.
- What emotional state would have the disciples been in at this point?
- Think about what you know about the disciples and their actions the day of Jesus arrest and what they assumed about Jesus right up until His ascension. How does this impact how their feelings might have been?
- What does it say about Jesus that He prepared a meal for them?
- What did it mean in NT times to invite someone to a meal?
- What does it mean that Jesus wanted to have a meal with them?
- How did they eat meals in the NT? Was it a quick bite on the way to a meeting, or a time of fellowship and intimacy?
- How do these verses annihilate our usual understanding of Jesus and how He looks at us after we mess up?
- Why does John tell us (in verse 12) that they didn’t ask Him who He was because they knew it was Jesus? Why would John give us that detail? Is it important? Why or why not?
- How might the people in the pew be dealing with the same emotions as the disciples?
- What does this passage teach us about how Jesus deals with sinful, scared, and worn out people?
- How does this text remind us of Psalm 23? The story of the Prodigal Son?
- How do you think the disciples looked at each other while they were chomping down on the fish biscuits?
- Have you ever encountered an awkward situation?
- Have you ever messed up and been summoned by an authority figure (parent, teacher, principal, policeman)?? How was your emotional state leading up to that conversation?
- Why did Jesus choose death, burial, and then experience resurrection? Ultimately, what is His reward?
These were some of the questions I took to the text. I hope it helped him as he personally prepared the message.
What are some ways you approach a text? How would you have advised this young preacher?