"God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power" (Acts 2:24).
It's Easter, pastor. What are you preaching? Don't preach about springtime, as much as we all love it. This is not the day for that. Don't make the analogy about how Easter eggs speak to us about new birth and all that foolishness. Stay on track. You have the greatest message on the planet; don't weaken it with trivialities.
Tell your people-and all those whom the Holy Spirit will send this Sunday, not yet "your people," but potentially so-that death could not hold Jesus Christ, that He is risen from the dead, and what that means to them. Never forget that every sermon has two parts: "What?" and "So what?" So, what exactly does the Easter event mean? I'm glad you asked.
I. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ Means He Is Still Alive and Among Us Today
"Lo, I am with you all the way" (Matt.28:20). "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5).Pastor, let's not encourage our people to think of Jesus' resurrection as something that happened in the dusty realms of ancient civilization, as though Easter Sunday is a memorial day and we're giving a history lesson. When we say "Jesus is risen!" we must emphasize that "He is here among us today!"
Question: Does your congregation believe Jesus Christ is in this place, among us today?
II. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ Means That Everything He Said Was True
Every promise He gave, every claim He made, is good, stamped with Heaven's verification. Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!
Question: When are we going to get straight about Jesus being the only Door to everything Heaven has to offer?
III. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ Means That Death Is Defeated
Death is dead, and we need never fear that faker again. Two huge scriptures on this: For this purpose Jesus partook of flesh and blood (like us), that "through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to bondaage all their lives" (Heb. 2:14-15). He defeated the devil and delivered his captives! Jesus is He "who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel" (2 Tim. 1:10). He literally "nullified" death, putting it out of business. So, when we die in Christ, we go straight to Him. To the redeemed, there is no death, in any way that truly matters.
Question: When are we going to stop fearing death and start believing Jesus?
IV. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ Means We May Live Boldly
Death has been defanged and "demonsterfied" (if that's not a word, it should be!). No fear of death means no hesitation about living!
Question: What's holding you back from the bold things Christ wants from you?
V. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ Means We Have a Gospel
The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, ladies and gentlemen, is unlike any other message on the planet! And everyone needs to hear it. You and I are the messengers. We get to break the news to those still cowering in fear of death. We have the privilege of unlocking the chains holding them in darkness.
Question: Have we conned ourselves into thinking we can keep silent but live so wonderfully that the lost will see and believe? Someone needs to tell them about Jesus.
VI. For All Who Are in Christ, the News Is All Good
We are in Christ, from here on in-into eternity! Any trouble along the way is just so many speed bumps. Keep in mind, the message of Jesus is not called "good news" for nothing! My sins are gone, the charges against me have been nailed to the cross, the blood of Jesus has washed me from all sin, and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. I am born again, adopted into the family of God, with my name written in the Book of Life. I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who also overshadows and undergirds me, goes before me and comes behind me. I am saved, forgiven, called, sent, accompanied, commanded, instructed, blessed, filled, and used by the living God for His purposes.
Question: Yes, we do preach on sin, but have we allowed our message to emphasize only the negative?
VII. I Must Not Be Upset if These Lessons Come Slowly to Me
Such truths are too wonderful for me. My carnal mind resists believing that death is defeated and that being absent from the body means being at home with our Lord, but my heart of hearts knows this is true. So, we daily give ourselves anew to Him, we surrender to His will for that day, and we dedicate ourselves to growing in Christ. One of these days, we'll get it right. Until then, do not weaken.
Question: Are we being too perfectionistic? Can we be more patient with ourselves and one another? "O fools and slow of heart to believe…" (Luke 24:25). Help us, Lord.
Joe McKeever is a retired Southern Baptist pastor from New Orleans, Louisiana. He blogs regularly at www.joemckeever.com.