The Inevitable Messiness of Being Human, Pt 1
On Sunday my commitment to expository preaching was tested. I preached on the chapter every seminoid dreads from the day they graduate, namely Leviticus 15 on the emission and discharge of various bodily fluids. The challenges of preaching this sticky wicket are manifold.
First, the preacher himself needs to understand why there is legislation on bodily leakiness in the Bible. Second, he needs to read and explain the text without blushing or eliciting any unsolicited giggles from the congregation. Third, the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ must be proclaimed from the text (not just gratuitously or tangentially), in a way that people see the connection and are moved to worship. And finally, application for today needs to be drawn from the Mosaic Law, which is fulfilled in Christ and no longer binding on Church-age believers.
When I surveyed how other preachers dealt with the text, I noticed a trend toward lumping chapter 15 in with the sermon on leprosy from chapters 13 and 14. So, most pastors tended to passionately preach up a storm from Lev 13-14 on the picture leprosy is of sin and Christ’s power to make clean the unclean–and then incidentally append a footnotish concession that chapter 15 provides another illustration of this truth by portraying a different type of uncleanness. A slight “ahem” would often punctuate the part fo the sermon where the unmentionables were mentioned.
I thought to myself, “Chickens! I’ll play the man, and preach an entire sermon on the chapter. With the courage of a seasoned expository janitor I’ll mop up the mess on aisle 15 with my dry wit.”
Shortly after my monologue– during the part of my exegesis where I simply read the text multiple times– I started to change my tune, and thought “Perhaps the chickens had the right idea after all. It would have been smart to graft this onto last week’s sermon. Oops.”
Anyway, plunged in, over my head, ready to sink or swim; one way or another I would wring application from this chapter. As it turned out, 2 Tim 3:16 is in fact true: all Scripture, even Leviticus, is breathed out by God and profitable for doctrine, reproof, and training in righteousness. Who woulda thunk?
Over the next few posts I’ll share with you the insights that floated to the top during the process of exegesis. My goal is to encourage seminoids and preachers the world over to honor the word of God by committing to never edit, censor, or skip over anything God has said. I was deeply blessed by what I found in Leviticus 15, and I trust that you will be too. And you’ll probably never look at your body the same way again.