Evangelicals through the years have emphasized the need for Christian preachers to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. The sixteenth-century Puritan William Perkins summarized his theory saying, “Preach one Christ, by Christ, to the praise of Christ. To God alone be the glory.” Likewise, John Broadus summarized his approach saying, “The subject of preaching is divine truth, centrally the gospel as revealed and offered in Jesus Christ.”
While many would say “amen!” to these affirmations on the importance of the gospel, others would also want to emphasize the primacy of expository preaching. Essentially, expository preaching attempts to explain and apply the biblical text in its context. This poses an interesting dilemma for Christian preachers. Bryan Chapell, President of Covenant Theological Seminary and preaching professor, has raised the question precisely asking, “How do I preach the text that is present and preach Christ where he may not seem to be present?” In asking this question, two assumptions are being made: (1) expositors should be faithful to the context of a passage, and (2) Christian preachers should desire to proclaim the glories of Christ.
How does one deal with the text with integrity and preach Christ from a text like Nehemiah? After all, many Old Testament instructors declare that “you should not look for Jesus under every rock!” Students are taught to respect and consider the “original” hearers. Thus, the question remains as to whether the preacher can accomplish these two goals (exposition and Christ-centeredness) without arbitrarily inserting Jesus into the text or simply “leapfrogging to Jesus” at the end of the sermon.