Exegesis Matters- A Plea to Pastors by Jesse H. Pickett

Recently a good friend and I were having a conversation. With this particular friend, as our conversations usually go, the subject turned to preaching, and more particularly exegesis. He told me that he had mentioned the word exegesis from the pulpit, and that afterward someone in his church had approached him and asked if exegesis had something to do with Jesus. Given the pronunciation of the word exegesis(ex-uh-jesus) it is very easy to see how one would come to this conclusion. My friend responded to this inquiry by saying “you know, ultimately it should.” How right he was! The word exegesis does not immediately convey anything about Jesus Christ, but, as my friend properly observed, good exegesis should always end up at Jesus Christ. The word exegesis conveys the idea of leading out. That is to say the goal of exegesis for the preacher of the Word is to lead out the main idea of the text which he is preaching, bringing his hearers into direct contact with the true sense of the Biblical text. I remember a recent fall festival event at our church where a family in our congregation brought their horses to the church grounds for the children to ride. The children were obviously fearful of the horses, and the horses too large to be let loose around the children. So, the man and woman in the family fitted the horses with bits and bridles and led them out of the trailer and onto the grass where the children could ride with the guidance of the owners. This is the essence of exegesis. The preacher is serving the role of mediator between God (as He has revealed Himself in His Word) and His people. It is the duty of the preacher to bridle the text so to speak, as he wrestles with it’s profound and eternal truths. He is to take hold of God, tenaciously pursuing the true sense of the text of the Bible in order that when the Lords Day comes he has a Word from God to bring to the people of God. He is to wrestle with the scripture to uncover it’s meaning so that God’s people can be fed with it’s rich truth. Like Jacob, He is to wrestle with the Bible, refusing to let it go until God blesses His diligent labor. As Luther put it, the man of God is to be like Moses and beat the rock of scripture until water gushes out to quench the thirst of Gods people who spend Monday through Saturday in a barren wilderness. Just as the large and powerful horses were led to those small, helpless children for their enjoyment, so the pastor must lead the powerful truth of God to the children of God so that they may learn to joy and glory in all that He is for them. This is only accomplished through prayerful and painstaking exegesis. The pastor stands in the stead of Jesus Himself. He is to be doing what Christ did while on the earth. He is to be the voice of Christ to His people Lords Day after Lords Day expounding the scriptures precisely and accurately. The apostle John tells us in his gospel that no man has ever seen God. However, when the Son of God became flesh and dwelled among us, John goes on to tell us that He came to “declare God” to us. In the Greek, the Word translated declared in John 1:18 is the word exegesato (exegesato) from which we derive the very word exegesis. In short, Jesus is the consummate exegete! He came to lead God the Father into full revelation for us so that through Him we could know Him. Now that He has ascended back into heaven, he has tasked His heralds with the business of doing what He did- we are called to lead God out from the Word of God to the people of God. God is only known in a saving way in the Bible through His Son. Pastor, you must do exegesis. Lead God in Jesus Christ out to your people, and do it well!

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