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Easter Is “Ground Zero” for Preaching

Crucifixion images tend to be sanitized. The reality was so much more shocking than we tend to realize. The frequency of reference, combined with serene artistic representations, has led many believers to have an altogether unrealistic mental image of the crucifixion.

If you are preaching in the next couple of days, before the celebration of Sunday, how should you handle the passion of our Lord? It is tempting for some to try to be as graphic as they can. The motivation may be good, but the net result can be lacking. Turning people’s stomachs is not the goal of Easter preaching. By all means be as biblical and historically accurate as you can be, but always keeping in mind that your listeners are a mixed bunch.

Some of them may fill their minds with horrific images from movies and video games. But there will be others present who find the slightest hint of blood brings about faintness and nausea. The goal is to preach Christ and Him crucified, not to preach so that all people recall is the horror of crucifixion itself. So beware of excessive medical detail, or overwhelming graphic description, or repulsive projected images.

It is important to remember that people will be drawn by the work of the Spirit, not by the effectiveness of our storytelling and vivid description.

We need to find the right balance this Easter. Tell it well and help people to know the historicity and reality of Calvary. But be careful to rely fully on the Spirit to stir the heart, as opposed to simply stirring the stomach by excessive and unhelpful shock-and-awe tactics.  

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Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at BiblicalPreaching.net and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014).