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What Jesus Can Teach Us About Sermon Illustrations

Jesus used sermon illustrations.


We usually call them parables. Let me tell you about one from the book of Matthew.

After performing a miracle, Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move” (17:20).

The imagery of a mustard seed moving a mountain is powerful. First, a mustard seed is incredibly small. Yet, given the proper environment and resources, it grows to be a large plant.

Second, Jesus is not far from a place called Herodian. Herodian is what King Herod called the mountaintop palace he built to celebrate a victory over the Parthians.

There’s something interesting I should share about Herod’s mountaintop palace. Before he built it, THERE WAS NO MOUNTAIN.

How can you build a mountaintop palace without a mountain?!

Simple: Herod had a mountain built.

He took dirt from another place to create his very own personalized mountain.

Using this popular image, Jesus taught his disciples an important truth: If they have faith in God, they can do greater things than King Herod.

The disciples probably never forgot what Jesus said that day.

When it comes to using sermon illustrations, we should be like Jesus. We should take what our audience knows about the world and use it to describe important truths from the Bible.

Here are four reasons why you should be using sermon illustrations:

1. Illustrations Help Listeners Understand Important Principles From Scripture

Some concepts are a little harder to understand than others. How could Jesus get the disciples to grasp that they would turn the world upside down? That they would be a part of a force more powerful than the Roman government? He used a mustard seed and a mountain.

2. Illustrations Add Flesh and Blood to Abstract Ideas

Illustrations can help the people in your church see how a concept works in the real world. They add a face and place to an important truth that should be applied and lived out. We can’t afford to miss this point.

3. Illustrations Activate the Listener’s Imagination

Illustrations can help some remember principles long after the message is over. Once during a sermon, I heard a story about a plant. Now when I see a dead plant, I remember the Old Testament book of Jonah. Appeal to your congregation’s imagination, and they’ll remember it.

4. Illustrations Can Be Used to Reach People Who Learn Differently

People learn differently. Some are tactile learners; others learn visually. By using a picture, video clip or object lesson, you can reach people that might not normally be moved by just listening to your voice.  

I’m extremely excited to announce that we just launched our new sermon illustration packets at Ministry Pass. If you’re looking for great illustrations, check them out!