Before I was a senior pastor, I served on staff at a couple of churches. One of my pastors liked to refer to Easter Sunday as his “Super Bowl Sunday.” Indeed, most preachers relish the annual celebration. Church attendance is high, numerous visitors are present, and the worship team typically is at its best.
I’ve sometimes wondered what would happen if preachers treated every Sunday like Easter. After all, is it really much different than any other Lord’s Day?
I once heard Adrian Rogers admonish pastors in this regard. He said they would benefit from treating every Sunday as if it were Easter. How can preachers do this? How can they preach like it is Easter all year long? Consider three helpful actions:
Preach the Gospel. I have a habit wherein I look over my sermon notes one last time before I stand in the pulpit. I scan my material to make sure there is adequate mention of the Gospel.
Usually I end up placing reminders in the margins that say, “Preach the Gospel!” If you want to preach Easter all year long, be intentional to make the Gospel the center of each and every sermon. The message of the resurrection isn’t something for Easter alone. It was part and parcel of all the apostles’ preaching (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Since this is true, modern preachers should do no less. Charles Spurgeon said, “I am certain, brethren, that all consolations which wise men can ever afford… will never be equal to that which is afforded by the record that Jesus Christ ascended from the tomb.”
Preach a complete Gospel. When I was in college, I had the opportunity to preach in several smaller churches. Since I was a local “preacher boy,” I was often dispatched to fill pulpits. I’ll never forget an occasion in which an older pastor gave me an opportunity. As we were eating lunch after morning worship, I asked him to give me feedback. I was stunned by his response—“You messed up son. You really blew it.” Attempting to gather myself; and wondering what mistake I could have possibly made, I sheepishly asked, “What did I do?” The older preacher thundered—“You left Jesus dead! You preached the crucifixion, but you never mentioned the resurrection!” I learned an important lesson that day. Preachers must be on guard against preaching half of the Gospel. Jesus died for everyone, but He got up from the grave as well (Rom. 4:25).
Live the resurrection. Effective leaders know that it’s counterproductive to expect others to embrace what they don’t emulate in their own lives. Something similar can be said of preachers and the resurrection. If one isn’t living according to the realities of the cherished doctrine, it probably won’t show up in his preaching. Commenting on the gospel preaching of J.C. Ryle, Iain Murray has said, “No one could preach with this emphasis for the greater part of a lifetime without living in Christ. The heart will determine the message.” Preacher, don’t forget that the resurrection is an integral part of daily Christian living (Rom. 6:4-6). If you want to preach Easter all year long, make sure you are walking with a faith-focus on the empty tomb.