5 Common Themes in Jesus’ Sermons

Clarence L. Haynes Jr.

Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 05, 2024
5 Common Themes in Jesus’ Sermons

For the three years Jesus’ ministry was prominent, he taught and accomplished a lot. The gospels record a great deal of Jesus’ ministry, yet even they don’t hold everything Jesus did. As John wrote in his gospel:

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25).

Thankfully, we do have the ability to see and glean from Jesus’ life and his teachings from the gospel records. Jesus spoke of many things, and I want to highlight five common themes you find in Jesus’ sermons.

My goal here is not just to mention the theme, but to highlight why that matters for you. It’s not enough to know the theme; it’s more important to understand how it applies to your life.

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landscape view of a castle fortress at sunrise

Theme 1 - The Kingdom of God

“Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place’” (John 18:36).

Jesus often preached about the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven. The phrase “the kingdom of God” appears over 50 times in the four gospels, and when you add to that the term “kingdom of heaven,” you can see how common a theme this was in Jesus’ teaching.

Why is teaching about the kingdom of God important to your life?

Understanding the kingdom is important because it helps to shape your focus. If you forget about the kingdom, then you can easily get caught up in everything that is happening in this world. However, when you remember the kingdom of God, it is a reminder that this world is not our home. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he never lost sight of this. He never got caught up in the earthly distractions that we can be prone to when we care more about the kingdoms of our lives or this earth.

Thinking with the kingdom in mind will help direct everything you do, because you think beyond just the here and now.

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Silhouette of a father with his young son

Theme 2 – The Father

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name’” (Matthew 6:9).

Jesus often spoke of the Father. He spoke of the Father’s love, the Father’s provision, the Father’s protection, and often highlighted his relationship with and to the Father. Even when he taught his disciples to pray, he told them to approach God as Father.

Why does it matter to you he taught about the Father?

This is a critical theme because it establishes our relationship with him. By approaching God as Father, that changes everything about how we interact with God. This makes our salvation personal. God is not just some impersonal God who you cannot approach. He is your Father. When you see him and know him as Father, you can walk securely, knowing he will love you, care for you, provide for you, protect you, and walk with you. Salvation is not just about sins being forgiven. It is about becoming a child of God, where God becomes our heavenly Father.

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matthew 6:31-32).

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Crowd following a single person

Theme 3 - The Cost of Discipleship

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, even their own life — such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).

Jesus never sugar-coated what it would take to be his disciple. He did not keep that from his followers, but he told them the truth. To be his disciple would require surrender, suffering, sacrifice, and denying yourself. This is how Jesus weeded out those who would follow him all the way from those who would simply fall away.

Why does understanding the cost of discipleship matter to you?

Understanding the price required to follow Jesus exposes why you are following him to begin with. Many people followed Jesus when the miracles were flowing, but when things got challenging because of following Jesus, many walked away. While the joys and benefits of walking with the Lord are great, they come at a price. Those who are his disciples have chosen to pay that price.

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Concept art of what Heaven could look like

Theme 4 - Eternal Life

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die’” (John 11:25).

Jesus often spoke of eternal life. Whether he was mentioning the kingdom, the cost of discipleship, and even in his parables, he constantly reminded his followers that there is more to life than what you see around you.

Why does eternal life matter to you?

One big reason is hope. We know that when this life is over, as his disciples, we have an eternal home waiting for us. Knowing this is necessary because it helps you focus on what is most important. This life matters, but your eternal destination matters more. If it costs you everything in this life to follow Jesus, when you compare that to what is waiting for us in heaven, it makes it all worth it.

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Statue of blind lady liberty

Theme 5 - Judgment

Jesus often talked about judgment and reward, especially in many of his parables. There is an eternal judgment waiting for those who reject Christ and there is an eternal reward for those who receive Christ. Both themes were common in Jesus’ teachings.

You find one of Jesus’ more sobering teachings about judgment in Matthew when he talked about the sheep and the goats.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (Matthew 25:31-33).

Without mincing his words, Jesus clarifies that one day there will be a final judgment and separation between those who belong to him and those who don’t. I don’t have time to expound on that teaching, so I encourage you to read it. Here is the result of this final judgment.

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).

Why should judgment matter to you?

This matters because this is the endgame. This brings into question everything you are living for now. When you stand before Jesus one day – and we all will – what will he say to you? If you ever needed a wake-up call, then thinking about the day we stand before Jesus should be that call. One day, your entire life and everything you did for Jesus will be laid before him. On that day, what are the words you want to hear coming from Jesus towards you? Your answer to that question should dictate how you live your life now.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’” (Matthew 25:34-36).

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Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com

Originally published Tuesday, 04 June 2024.