I know Easter is still a couple of months away, but as a preacher it is never too early to think about Easter. In fact, there is a sense in which commemoration of Easter is never more than six days away – the Lord’s Day is a weekly gathering because of His resurrection. So here’s a thought regarding Easter (whether you’re planning for April or preparing for tomorrow’s message).
In preaching any narrative section, we need to consider whom listeners will gravitate toward, with whom they will identify. We should consider how to encourage that or redirect that through our preaching. In the case of the passion narratives, this tendency to identify can be powerfully used in our preaching. Luther pointed to this when he wrote:
“Although Christians will identify themselves with Judas, Caiaphas, and Pilate; sinful, condemned actors in the Gospel story – there is another who took the sins of humanity on himself when they were hung around his neck.”
When it comes to the story of the crucifixion we find ourselves identifying with so many characters: Judas, Peter, fleeing disciples, Caiaphas, Pilate, Roman soldiers, Simon from Cyrene, mocking executioners, mocking crowds, mocking thief, repentant thief, followers standing at a distance, followers standing close by, even the Centurion. Yet the wonder of it all is that we are invited to identify with the perfect One hanging on that cross, for in that act He was most wondrously identifying with us.
Consider how the natural function of narrative – to spark identification – can be utilized to communicate the wondrous truth of Calvary this Easter, or even this Sunday.