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The spiritual opportunities of an Easter like no other

This is an unusual Easter, to say the least.

The only one perhaps stranger than this one was the first one!

From a distance of two thousand years, we try to imagine ourselves in the events of this week: Cheering Jesus as he came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Watching him engage with both those eager to get near him and enemies seeking an opportunity to kill him.

What was the atmosphere in that Upper Room?

How did it change over the sacred hours that passed?

What did it feel like, or look like, when Jesus washed feet, spoke of a betrayer, or when Judas left the room?

The horror and terror of the arrest, the trials, the cross.

The mind-boggling news of the resurrection!

The words Fear not from a living Jesus appearing in the room that first Easter night.

We ponder and preach these things as fellow disciples and worshippers.

The opportunity in the crisis

Maybe you’re feeling the pressure I’m feeling—the pressure that an Easter like no other demands a sermon like no other!

How do we stand to pray and speak into a circumstance that is global in nature and uncertain in its duration and implications?

Surely, one thing we can say is that the misery of anxiety loves company. We are “All in this together,” it seems, as we are allin need of Jesus’ grace and hope because the virus of sin is far worse than COVID-19.

The message and mercy of Jesus are no more needed today than it ever was, but we pray that more people are ready to hear and receive it this Easter.

In the midst of isolation from physical distancing, perhaps this will be the greatest season of salvation the world has ever known.

After all, more preachers and believers are sharing with more people who need to hear than ever in history!

The 4 kinds of people you’ll preach to this Easter

As I preach this Easter, I’m trying to focus on several kinds of people I thought would be listening and watching:

Disciples delight in this day as the core of our faith, the essence of our hope. Give them permission to celebrate and challenge them to “go and tell” like never before in the coming days, like the women who came to Jesus’ tomb.

Discoverers are those who, in recent days and weeks, have started asking questions about faith and who might now be ready to choose Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Show and tell them how to do that. We all started at a place of ignorance.

Drifters are those who have given into the many competing idols of our culture. Today is a great day to invite them back into a renewed relationship with Christ.

The defiant ones have a spirit which, taken to the extreme, led to Jesus’ execution. These folks—like all of us—need to hear Jesus’ love and forgiveness and clear call to confession and repentance. The gospel is clear: “The wages of sin is death (ultimate separation from God forever), but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Those are the most peace-producing words ever written.

Lastly, I love this quote from Dwayne Reed, which seems especially relevant for our mission in the coming days, weeks, months, and years: “My hope is that our new normal, today, exposes what was wrong with our old normal, yesterday, and sets us up for a better normal, tomorrow.”

And yet, as Christians, our new normal remains our old normal: “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.”