Crucifixion images tend to be sanitized. The reality was so much more shocking than we tend to realise. The frequency of reference, combined with serene artistic representations, has led many believers to have a altogether unrealistic mental image of the crucifixion.
If you are preaching in the next couple of days, before the celebration of Sunday, how should you handle the passion of our Lord? It is tempting for some to try to be as graphic as they can. The motivation may be good, but the net result can be lacking. Turning peoples’ stomachs is not the goal of Easter preaching. By all means be as biblical and historically accurate as you can be, but always keeping in mind that your listeners are a mixed bunch.
Some of them may fill their minds with horrific images from movie and video games. But there will be others present who find the slightest hint of blood brings about faintness and nausea. The goal is to preach Christ and Him crucified, not to preach so that all people recall is the horror of crucifixion itself. So beware of excessive medical detail, or overwhelming graphic description, or repulsive projected images.
It is important to remember that people will be drawn by the work of the Spirit, not by the effectiveness of our storytelling and vivid description.
We need to find the right balance this Easter. Tell it well and help people to know the historicity and reality of Calvary. But be careful to rely fully on the Spirit to stir the heart, as opposed to simply stirring the stomach by excessive and unhelpful shock and awe tactics.
One thought on “Ground-Zero Preaching (Easter in the Pulpit) 3”
“Turning peoples’ stomachs is not the goal of Easter preaching…The goal is to preach Christ and Him crucified.” I completely agree. The case you’ve been making is apt, and I agree wholeheartedly that people, above all, desperately need the truth about Christ crucified, and how that truth changes everything for us, more than another gruesome reenactment of the crucifixion. Not that we should never be shaken from our complacency and be amazed at the depth of his suffering, but it should not be “it”.
One message I have not heard recently for Easter Sunday is 1 Corinthians 15. It is funny that the “Resurrection Chapter” is not one that seems to be turned to very often.