A Mile in Every Message
May 15
When Jesus Christ entered the ministry at age 30, He returned to His hometown of Nazareth to preach before His family and friends, and He chose text from Isaiah, announcing Himself as its ultimate fulfillment.
Many preachers since Christ have sensed a certain application of these words to themselves as well, for no one can minister effectively without the anointing and empowering of the Holy Spirit. Consider, for example, the unconventional Billy Sunday, who won thousands to Christ though his voice was husky and strained and his words ordinary and crude.
Sunday preached in a sensational style—shouting, jumping, swinging fists, running from one end of the stage to the other. One editor estimated he traveled a mile in every message. As a former baseball player, Sunday had the physique of an athlete, and he used every muscle. He sometimes slid across the platform as if stealing a base, or leaped atop his pulpit or onto the pews. Some of his acrobatics made audiences gasp.
Yet his content was hardly spontaneous. Sunday painstakingly composed elaborate notes, bound in large, black leather notebooks. Arriving at the pulpit, he habitually placed his notes atop a Bible opened to Isaiah 61:1—“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings.”
Sunday considered most preaching devoid of spiritual power. While at Pentecost one sermon saved 3,000 people, now it takes 3,000 sermons to get one old buttermilk-eyed, whiskey-soaked blasphemer. Ever since God saved my soul and sent me out to preach, I have prayed Him to enable me to pronounce two words, and put into those words all they mean. One word is “Lost” and the other is “Eternity.” Ten thousand years from now we will all be somewhere. I never preach a sermon but that I think it may be the last one some fellow will hear or the last I shall ever be privileged to preach.