I will never forget having preached a sermon on Luke 17:7-10 at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Homiletics Society and having my professor/mentor, Dr. Haddon Robinson, approach me. As usual, he was gracious; as usual, he was also honest: “That’s not the final word.”
He was reacting to the way the preaching portion and sermon ended: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (v. 10).
Even though Haddon does not consistently practice canonical interpretation, he knew that Christians would hear another word from God: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Luke 19:17).
At that time I was still new to canonical interpretation (interpreting preaching portions in light of the entire Canon). So, I did not progress beyond my exegesis of Luke 17:7-10. But I should have. Haddon was right.
Thankfully, by God’s grace-in-Christ, servant self-talk is not the final word. There’s more. God will pronounce to us good and faithful servants (all genuine Christians) that we have done well.
In this case, as in many other cases, all I needed to do was track a key term (servant) throughout Luke and the rest of the Canon to see this progression of meaning. Because of Christ’s sacrifice for us, we move from unworthy to praiseworthy.
Before Sunday, check your preaching portion to see if there is more to be said than your exegesis. Like this case in Luke 17, it may make a significant difference in the sound of your sermon.
Preach well for the sake of His reputation.