The most important message we can preach is the hope we can have in Jesus Christ because of his resurrection. This is also the most difficult message for the world to accept. People can accept having a “safe” Jesus who preached moral sermons, told stories, and died on the cross as a martyr. Judaism and Islam will go that far. But to claim that Jesus rose on the third day is a scandal to modern minds. One of the reasons for this is that if one believes this claim, one must accept the rest of what Jesus said and what the church has taught about him throughout the ages. This will also demonstrate the reality of sin and the promise of salvation. People do not like to be told they are sinners going to the judgment of hell. Nowadays, those who claim this are called bigots.
As preachers of the gospel, we must never compromise the gospel of Jesus’ resurrection. We are bound by the oaths of our ordination and commands of Scripture to proclaim this truth with power and conviction. We may be tempted to make this message palatable to post-modern people or seek to please those who want scientific proof. In our efforts to be relevant, we must speak the truth in love.
The message of Jesus’ resurrection is not only for Easter Sunday morning but for every “resurrection day” service. Do we give our people the hope of new life in the raised Jesus? Are our sermons only stories with a good moral? Are we growing knowledgable legalists or passionate evangelists? Are we being good rabbis or psychologists or are we preaching Christ crucified and raised?
Easter is a great opportunity for us to refocus our lives and ministry. It should be the high point of the church year. But we can repeat this every Sunday, resurrection day. Not every sermon needs to deal specifically with the historical event of Jesus’ resurrection. But every sermon, if it is to be Christian, must offer the hope that comes because of Jesus’ resurrection. How we state this in a sermon or lesson can be as unique as our imagination. There are endless ways and countless words that can express our hope of salvation through Jesus. Our sermons can appeal to the head, hard, or hands, but they must offer hope and change. Then we put our trust in the Holy Spirit to take the foolishness of our preaching and turn it into the wisdom of God that transforms, renews, and enlivens. As preachers, let’s be people of hope.
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