Easter is a special Sunday in the church calendar. There are many moving pieces and items calling for a preacher’s attention on Easter. But remember that you are called to preach—to preach the Scriptures and to preach Christ. You may have more visitors than usual, and with that, you may be tempted to drift or dial down from the normal practice of exposition. Don’t do that. When it comes to preaching Easter, here are some things to consider for a proper Easter sermon.
Preach it Biblically
Grab a text, stay in the text, explain the text—preach the text. This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s not. I’ve heard too many Easter sermons that began with a verse, then pattered about on Christian themes and bad apologetics, and then read a verse at the end to remind us that Jesus is alive. Brothers, preach a text. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you must preach a collection of passages and themes. Preach the old story from the end of the Gospels, 1 Corinthians 15, Romans 6, Romans 8, and more. Take your pick.
Preach it Historically
Jesus rose in the first century, in Israel, and was seen by multiple eyewitnesses. The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in human history. Preach it that way. Easter is not a myth, fable, or a good vibes story—it’s Good News for sinners. People should walk out of our churches with a clear sense that we believe this really happened and that it really matters today.
Preach the Physicality
Make it plain and evident that Jesus rose from the dead—bodily. Easter is not about a ghost, aura, or manifestation of Christ. It was a resurrection from the dead. Jesus was certified dead by a Roman executioner on Good Friday—and that corpse was cold no more on Easter morning. Christ’s cerebral cortex fired back up. Blood runs in his veins. Alive. Breathing. Risen. The same fingerprints carried the cross and folded his grave clothes. The same DNA walked on water and walked out of the tomb. Christ conquered death.
Preach the Spirituality
Don’t be the kind of preacher who talks about the resurrection of Christ as a symbol of the human spirit, fresh starts, or overcoming an obstacle in your life. But do be the preacher who heralds the hope the resurrection of Christ gives to this life and the life to come (1 Cor. 15:19). Preach the spiritual import of the resurrection. Christ rose for our justification, so we could be made right with God (Rom 4:25). Preach on Christ’s rising is how our sins are removed (1 Cor 15:17). He is the hope and power for forgiveness, for new life in him, for eternal life (Rom 6:4–11).
Preach the Eternality
Since Christ conquered the grave, eternal life is possible for all who believe in him. Eternal life is not a side dish of Easter—it’s the ecosystem of the Christian life (John 17:3). Preach the reality of living forever in union with the risen Christ. We too are going to rise from the dead, and our bodies will be like his (Phil 3:21).
Preach it Evangelistically
Don’t miss the opportunity to call people to believe in Christ, to put their faith, hope, and trust in the one who was crucified and raised for sinners. An Easter sermon without the evangel being presented evangelistically would be blasphemy. Gospel-centered preachers need to remember that the gospel is first a message to unbelievers, then it becomes the continual message for believers. This is the exact function of the four Gospels, Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, and Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill.
Preach it Worshipfully
I have two things in mind here. First, let your preaching be an act of worship. Exalt Christ in your sermon. Lift Jesus high as you speak of him. Take hold of him lovingly like Mary Magdalene did at the tomb. Respond like Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” Honor him, adore him, praise him. And invite others to do the same. Preach like a worship leader. You are one. Second, preach in a way that exhorts Christians to glorify Christ. Worship is a wonderful application on Easter Sunday.
Preach it Celebratorily
Easter is a time to rejoice. So, brothers, let your exposition have a note of celebrating Christ and his conquering of sin, Satan, and death. Too many sermons lack the evident and demonstrable expression of joy, excitement, and awe. He lives! We live! God gives us the victory in Christ (1 Cor 15:57). Let your personal enjoyment and celebration of Christ spill over into your exposition. Smile. Exult. Jesus is amazing.