You want to tell the Easter story well.
You want to help people fully grasp the excitement, meaning, and beauty of Jesus’ resurrection.
To do that, you can’t be using the same old sermon illustrations.
In this article, we’ll be covering 7 ideas that you can use this year to bring your Easter sermon to life:
At Ministry Pass, our neighbor has a beautiful orange tree. She planted it and watered it for ten years before it bore fruit. When it did, she was in for a shock: the oranges were sour, not really good for anything except cocktails. So now, having that tree is more of a pain than a blessing, because she has to pick up all the fruit off of her lawn before it rots.
Sometimes, fruit trees don’t give us the results we want.
Whether you’re talking crabapples or bitter oranges (and we recommend looking up trees in order to make it more local!) or just life, we’ve all been in situations where things we’ve waited for didn’t work out quite as we’ve hoped. The first fruit shows the nature of the tree. Our hearts long for proof of the truth.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul calls Jesus the “Firstfruits” of our resurrection. When we place our faith in Jesus, we know His promise of eternal life is good, because his resurrection is real and good. The firstfruits tell you whether or not a tree bears bad or good fruit. And in this case? It’s good fruit.
Source: Justin Trapp and Wade Bearden, who give you full permission to refer to them as your friends.
If you’re skeptical about the resurrection, we get it. But consider what Chuck Colson, Nixon’s special counsel on Watergate and henchman, said, ‘I know the resurrection is a fact. And Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified that they had seen Jesus raised from the dead and then proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned, eventually killed, put in prison- they would have not endured it if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in Washington DC, and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks.”
Source: The Colson Center
This example brings to mind the importance of sprinkling apologetics into your Easter sermon. Your entire sermon doesn’t have to be a defense of the Christian faith, but touch on apologetics and mention that you’d love to provide people with resources if they have more questions. Reassure people that, as Christians, we aren’t just looking at the resurrection saying, “Oh, we’re just following this through blind faith.” There are many reasons to believe in the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, and illustrations like this can go a long way to remind people of that and to let people know you have a reason for your hope.
The Sixth Sense
Warning: spoilers ahead! (But don’t worry! Almost everyone who would be interested in seeing this movie already knows what happens)
In the movie, Bruce Willis plays a child psychologist, Dr. Malcolm Crowe. At the beginning, he’s shot by one of his clients. Then, it flashes forward to his work with a new client, a child who can see dead people. At the end, the big twist is that the Doctor is dead. And once you know that, different pieces of the entire movie start to make sense.
Jesus’ death and resurrection are like that. When you understand Jesus’ purpose on this planet, it colors and informs your view of His entire time on earth. When you realize Who He was and why He came, it changes everything.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
In the sequel to the original Godzilla film, there’s a touching scene where Godzilla has been injured, and the team of scientists is trying to bring him a nuclear weapon that will heal him. Realizing that humanity cannot survive without Godzilla, a doctor volunteers to take the warhead to Godzilla on his own, and detonate it, sacrificing himself for the greater good.
The creators of this film were tapping into something we all know, deep within: sacrifice has to be made for new life to begin. Throughout the film, they focus the camera angles to focus in steeples and church buildings, further tapping into this symbolism. Consider: there’s a reason why we keep going back to these themes, and why they resonate with us. There’s a reason why when characters die and sacrifice themselves, we are awed and moved. Because there’s something deep inside all of us that realizes that’s the only way we can find new life.
The Lord of the Rings
After accompanying Frodo on a terrifying and exhausting quest to destroy the Ring, Sam Gamgee collapses. When he awakes, the first thing he sees is the wizard Gandalf, who he thought was dead. At that moment, he asks a question (one of the best lines from The Lord of the Rings):
“Is everything sad going to come untrue?”
As Christians, we understand that the world is broken and hurting, but we have a promise. Someday, everything sad WILL come untrue. In your sermon, you can easily point to a line like that and say, “Here’s a great line in this book that speaks to the reality of our faith.”
A gift unearned
Tanner Brownlee went to an auction with the intention of buying the cop car that his dad had driven in the line of duty until his death five years prior. As the bidding started, it quickly went out of his price range. He stood there, listening as the price got higher and higher, knowing that he could not pay it.
But the minute the bidding was over and the car was sold, a stranger, the man who had purchased the car, walked over to him and handed him the keys. Tanner couldn’t pay the price, but someone else did.
Source: USA Today
This true story illustrates something deeper: We weren’t just strangers when Jesus died for us, the Bible teaches that we were God’s enemies. Yet Jesus paid the price for us, to reconcile us with God. That’s a powerful truth that this story helps illustrate.
“Planned obsolescence” is when a company creates products that are designed to wear out so that customers have to buy more. One example of this is the nylon stockings- many companies design their nylons to weaken, wear out, and rip after a certain period of time. It’s annoying, sure, but it keeps them in business. So companies are often hesitant to make anything too perfect because they know they’ll need to make a sale later on. Planned Obsolescence says that something is good for only a certain amount of time, and then it has to be replaced.
When we look at the Old Testament sacrifices and laws, they’re all signposts of what Jesus would do. There’s this “planned obsolescence” for a short period of time, where God is preparing people to understand Jesus and His saving work. But later, Jesus would come, and He would be that final sacrifice once and for all. That’s what we have: the perfect Savior and sacrifice.
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