Our regular listeners need to hear the basic Easter story. Jesus told his followers to share bread and wine, “in remembrance” of Him. In a sense the Easter story never grows old for Christ’s followers – it means too much to us. So as a preacher don’t feel pressure from somewhere to say something that is somehow clever or different.
Remember that irregular listeners need to hear the basic Easter story. At Easter time there is a higher likelihood of visitors. Maybe they feel they should go to church at Christmas and again at Easter. Maybe they are visiting family who go to your church and politely join their hosts. These people don’t need some kind of creatively opaque and nuanced message. They need Easter, crystal clear and applied.
It is tempting to take the hygienic out of Easter preaching, but overly graphic detail is unhelpful to some. I’ve heard some very effective presentations of the crucifixion that went into the medical details and the sickening truth of the event. I’ve also heard some where the “shock and awe” tactic backfired significantly. We must be aware of who will be listening and what will be most effective for them. Our goal is to present the biblical truth and call for response, not to repulse people with images that obscure the message.
Let’s try to find the right balance for our listeners this Easter. We need to tell the story well, we need to help people see and feel the reality of Calvary. But we also need to be careful to allow the Holy Spirit to stir the heart, rather than merely stirring the stomach by excessive shock and awe tactics.
Check all four gospels for accuracy in your preaching. If you are preaching from, say, Luke’s account, then it is helpful to check the other three. You wouldn’t want to undermine your preaching by telling the story in such a way that you make errors because you forgot to check the other gospels.
Preach the text rather than the event. Having checked the other gospels to make sure you are not presenting an error in your sermon, be sure to actually preach Luke’s account (or whichever you have as your preaching text). Seek to preach the emphasis of the text you are in.
Before preaching the resurrection this Sunday, check your text for the implications that are present. For instance, in 1st Corinthians 15 we read that His resurrection gives us hope of our own (v16-20), the fear of death is removed (v26, 54-57), there are ethical implications (v32-34), motivation for ministry (v58), and even prompting to practical help for the poor (16:1, note Galatians 2:7-10).
Let’s preach the truth of the resurrection, let’s even allow our excitement to show, but let’s also try to be specifically clear in presenting the implications. It is easy in our excitement about the event to fall short in our relevance and application. Truly, everything is changed because Jesus rose from the dead. Part of our task is to help people see how that is true.