It is necessary for me to live with a passage, to carry it around with me, and to marinate my soul with its nourishing and thirst-quenching waters. I simply can’t do this in a couple hours. I need meditative time with the passage so the Spirit can work through it in me and through me to the people under my care. I’m about to make some of you angry, but I’m going to say it anyway. If you are developing original content late on a Saturday evening, you have no business preaching it on Sunday. It’s unlikely that you will have understood the full range of the radical gospel glories of the passage, it’s doubtful that they have confronted your heart, and it’s unlikely that you have developed much readiness to communicate them winsomely and practically to your listeners.
At that late hour you will settle for a surface scan of the passage and call it a sermon. You will pirate the work of others even if you don’t know you’re doing it, and you will have little ability to portray the radical confrontation and encouragement of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because you have not taken the necessary time, you will preach depersonalized doctrinal bits and pieces disassociated from the gospel of grace. You will communicate ideas, but you will not powerfully preach a glorious Christ who is powerfully present in every passage you will ever be called to preach. You will default to offering people a system of redemption, but you will not help them to find their hope and help in a Redeemer. So your people will think they’re growing in maturity because they are growing in theological understanding; but your preaching will not bring them to the end of themselves and to the cross of Jesus Christ. We must always, always remember that the theology of the Word of God is not an end in itself, but a means to an end—a radically grace-transformed life.