Which is odd, seeing as how that’s what he came to do. Or anyway, that’s what he tells Simon and his buddies:
“Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’Matthew writes that, after John the baptizer was imprisoned for badmouthing Herod, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’” (Matthew 4:17).
So he traveled throughout
Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 2:38 NIV)
I guess you could argue that such preaching was teaching—that preaching and teaching are six of one, half dozen of the other. But Matthew actually goes out of his way to differentiate the two actions: “After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of
Galilee” (Matthew 11:1).
He taught (διδάσκω, didaskō) and preached (κηρύσσω, kēryssō). (And also “instructed” his disciples, for which Matthew uses a different verb—διατάσσω, diatassō—which means something more along the lines of giving directions or training.)
So why not call Jesus The Great Preacher?
Certainly he was successful at it. “Everyone is looking for you!” Simon and his friends tell him (Mark 1:37), and from then on, when people found out he was in town, “They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them” (Mark 2:2).
Maybe we don’t call Jesus The Great Preacher because the word preacher has so much negative baggage. One preacher preaches one thing, another another. And there are false preachers. And scandals involving preachers.
And when we speak of preachers we mean those who tell us about Jesus, whereas what Jesus preached, early on, was largely the message of the whole Bible. Repent. And he preached from the Bible—literally reading forth what was written there and adding little to it besides “Heads up! This prophecy is happening right now” (Mark 4:21, my paraphrase).
Nevertheless, we’re told—although he soon made them so mad they wanted to toss him off a cliff—initially, at least, they were impressed with his preaching: “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips” (Mark 4:22). That must have been some sermon!
I think we think that Jesus came to Earth pretty much exclusively to die for us. And maybe, secondarily, to explain some spiritual stuff to us that we’re too stupid to figure out on our own. I think he also came, though, simply to preach the word. To tell us, in person, with his own mouth, the good news of himself.