Here’s a hypothetical suggestion to make a point. The traditional approach to preaching is to announce and read the text very early on, or even prior to, the sermon. What if we did the exact opposite?
I used to watch a children’s television programme in which the artist would be painting away on a wall or large canvas. A stroke here. A bit of colour there. A splash of paint. A few dots. “Can you see it yet?” The impressive thing was that until the very end I would have no idea what he was painting. Then suddenly it would all come together.
What if we preached like that? Hypothetical, but bear with me. You start your message with surfacing a need and you move into the body of the message explaining and applying the text (this is where the idea fails in reality) without identifying it. In your conclusion you read the passage. Just before the conclusion would you still be asking “Can you see it yet?”
If this were possible, it would be anything but impressive. Yet not unusual. When some preachers preach, usually after having read the text on which the sermon is based, the discerning listeners are left bemused by how what they are hearing seems to bear no resemblance to the text. The undiscerning listeners are left with the impression that this is how the Bible should be handled. An anecdote here. A pithy line there. An application. A story. A comment. But can we see the connection to the text?
I’m not suggesting you leave the reading until the end, unless that would help the sermon. I am suggesting the goal in preaching is not to make the connection between text and sermon a complete mystery!