John MacArthur Makes the Rounds

Last year I heard John MacArthur on his radio show, Grace to You, talk about his philosophy of preaching. He believes that the deeper he goes in exposition, the higher it can lift up the hearers in worship of God. MacArthur has dug until he hit paydirt in his latest book, A Tale of Two Sons: The Inside Story of a Father, His Sons, and a Shocking Murder. This book is an exposition of the most famous of Jesus’ parables: The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). In his exposition, MacArthur goes into the background cultural implications of the words of the parable to show that at every point in the action, the story is geared to offend the sensibilities of the original Jewish hearers. Being a culture steeped in their focus on honor and shame, this parable stirs up the Jews, interrupts them in their honorable comfort zones and forces them to grapple with a concept of God that is willing to suffer the shame of filthy, worthless sinners who come to repentance. In fact, he takes great joy in doing so!

To make the long story short, MacArthur points out that the Father represents Jesus in the parable, the Prodigal Son represents the tax collectors and sinners who’d just gathered to hear Jesus speak (Luke 15:1), and the older brother represents the Pharisees (v. 2). In the two parables preceding that of the Prodigal Son, Jesus highlights the joy God takes in recovering lost sinners. MacArthur points out that Pharisees, by contrast, take no joy in the repentance of shameful sinners, but rather, take joy in the recovery of lost sheep and coins ($$$!). These themes show up in spades in Jesus’ “Inside Story of a Father, [and] His Sons.”

The worship begins when, after hearing how the son’s shameful demad for his inheritance, his subsequent prodigal living and his rock bottom experience communing with shameful swine and his eventual determination to return to his Father, MacArthur compares the compassionate, watchful father who runs through the village in the most shameful way possible [by (1) lifting his robe so he can (2) run (!)] to protect his repentant son from the violent mistreatment he would have certainly received from the honorable local citizenry, to Jesus, who, being the most Honorable of them all, suffered the shame which my shameful behavior has incurred, so he could rejoice over my repentance and return to his loving embrace! You gotta read this book, or at least look up the series on the radio show, repent of your sins and worship Christ who has given and suffered so much for you.

Now that this book is available, naturally, MacArthur has to promote the book. That’s what brought him last Friday to Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. I took the opportunity of accompanying my wife to the event to hear him preach all of the above, and then some, for just over an hour (as is his usual habit). Following, are a few pictures from the event:

Crossroads Christian Church

Robert Wolgemuth MC\'d the event


 Bad Aim, Good Gospel Preaching



13 responses

  1. well? How about details? What’d you think? What about everyone else.
    C’mon…don’t hold back.

    Gage Browning
    PostTenebras Lu

  2. Nice,
    A real, live brush with greatness! Feels good du’ nt it?

  3. Capt.,
    So how come you get all the GOOD stuff? And, why didn’t your wife take that picture with you in it. . .standing next to THE MAN.


  4. Gage,

    Only my wife went with me. She enjoyed it far more than I expected her to. She is a fan of hearing about the historical and cultural background info in exposition, which, of course, is exactly what John MacArthur majors on.

    I think what I thought is contained in the post above. If you want to squeeze more detail out of me, perhaps you should ask a few more precise questions.

  5. Alan,

    Yep. Feels good. Fortunately, I’m kind of affected more by the Christ preached by the star than I am by the star himself. You know, like that story about the guy who went to one famous preacher’s church and came out saying, ‘What a preacher!” who then went to Spurgeon’s church and came out saying, “What a Savior!” That actually is the effect it had on me. It feels better to be able to say that than it does to be able to say I had a brush with greatness.

  6. Christian,

    I get all the “good stuff” because God loves me! I didn’t have time to stand in line for an autograph because we had to get home and in bed at a decent hour so we could get up and take a trip a couple of hours west the next morning.

  7. Cap’n,
    Touchy..touchy… I’ve recently heard his talk that he is traveling with. It’ a very interesting touch of insight into the story of the prodigal. I was looking more for your thought on his style and delivery etc… Just tryin to live vicarious.

    Gage Browning
    Post Tenebras Lux

  8. Touchiness was not the idea my words intended to convey. Sorry. As far as his delivery is concerned, it was comparable to his performance which can usually be heard on the radio. You’re the student of style and delivery, not me. Perhaps Christian West can provide an informed opinion on John MacArthur’s style and delivery . . .


  9. hey John
    Wasn’t that a great message? He came to Fremont a few weeks back and I took our church to hear him. I got a few pics posted on the RB. take care.


  10. Cap’n,
    I didn’ take it that way…I was funnin…was it a packed house?

    Gage Browning
    Post Tenebras Lux

  11. Will,

    It was a great message! I’m still processing it, though I haven’t started seriously reading the book yet. But it’s certainly in line. It’s amazing how much is added to a sermon that brings all the points around to how they relate to Christ and his redeeming work of love and grace!

  12. Gage,

    I got there early, so I had no trouble finding a seat, but it definitely filled up soon afterward. My pastor showed up five minutes after the start time and managed to squeeze in between a couple of “healthy” people in the balcony.

  13. Great! I’m glad a good crowd came out to see him. There’s hope for all of us yet. It is absolutely encouraging to me to see men who w/out shame preach the foolishness of the Cross. Amen!

    Gage Browning
    Post Tenebras Lux

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