Focus on Jesus Series
by Ed Vasicek
I prayerfully determined to preach the "series
of a lifetime," taking over two years to preach through the life of Christ,
combining material from all four Gospels. Logic dictates that every follower of
Christ needs to understand the person, life, and the teachings of Jesus. Yet
most Christians are never exposed to a thorough study
of the life and teachings of Jesus, the Christ.
I had preached through Luke, the longest Gospel in terms of words or verses, twice before (taking a year and a half each time) and most of John in separated segments. I have taught all the Gospels, in survey fashion, on several occasions.
This time around, I focused my research on the Jewish background and roots of the Gospels. I studied material from Messianic Jewish sources, mainstream Jewish sources, and scholarly materials from mainstream, conservative evangelical sources. Many of these addressed the cultural and religious backgrounds of the first century. Others addressed figures of speech unique to the period within Judaism.
In the process, I decided to include a handout sheet for each sermon for our church folks to collect. A few of them were fill-in-the-blank sermon outlines, which I have chosen not to include. Of the remainder, the majority contained relevant information that related to the sermon-lesson. Some reinforced and documented material mentioned in the sermon; other material was supplemental (items I did not want to address during my sermon, but relevant to the text). A few pages, such as those addressing the Sermon on the Mount, actually break new ground.
Since some of this information is hard to come by, I thought I would share this with other students of Scripture. The bibliography will guide readers to find unique materials that help unlock some unclear passages in the Gospels. Some of these books are reviewed on Amazon.
Although he is not quoted, I would especially like to thank my "Synoptic Gospels" professor at Moody Bible Institute, Dr. Paul Benware, who, in 1979, aimed me in the right direction and whose insights I still cherish.
Since brevity was crucial (all handouts were limited to one page), and since I was writing this material at quite a clip, my style may seem a bit unpolished. Perhaps I will take the time to rework some of this material in the future.
God bless you as you seriously seek to not only know the Savior in a saving way, but also to know about Him and the real meaning of what He taught.
Pastor Ed Vasicek
Pastor, Highland Park Church
Kokomo, Indiana USA
Highland Park Church