March 11, 2024

He Has Risen Indeed: Five Important Topics To Cover In Your Easter Sermon

Here are five important topics to cover in your Easter sermon.

Noah Cecil

Easter Sunday is right around the corner. While Christmas plays a special role in commemorating the arrival of the newborn Messiah, and what that promises for us, the death and resurrection of Jesus is a significant fulfillment of those promises. It’s through our celebration of Easter where we remember and reflect on Jesus serving as the ultimate sacrifice, and overcoming death itself, so that we may have eternal life through Him.

As pastors prepare to deliver a message that resonates with the profound meaning of Jesus’s death and resurrection, it’s important to find the right ideas that make the most of this year’s Easter sermon. Here are five inspirational and thought-provoking sermon ideas to help pastors connect with their congregations on this joyous occasion.

1. The Empty Tomb: A Symbol of Hope

One of the most exciting places pastors can start is by exploring the symbolism of the empty tomb. The empty tomb is an important depiction of what Jesus promises His believers: “(...) that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This is one of the core tenets of the Gospel, and we can even see Jesus making this promise to Martha in the book of John: 

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26). 

Jesus ends with the question we’re all ultimately faced with when choosing to walk in faith, “Do you believe this?” (11:26).

The empty tomb is a powerful symbol for hope that can be emphasized even in life's darkest moments, reminding us that there is light on the other side. 

2. Transforming Grace: Lessons from Peter's Restoration

In looking at Peter’s story surrounding Jesus’s death and resurrection, we can learn a lot about God’s grace toward us. Having followed Jesus through ministry, Peter showed confidence that nothing would deter his faith. Upon Jesus warning Peter that Satan plans on testing the disciples’ faith (Luke 22:31-32), Peter assures Jesus that he’s ready to go with Him “to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). In spite of this assurance, Peter would deny Jesus three times on the night of Jesus’s imprisonment (just as Jesus had foreseen in Luke 22:34). Despite Peter claiming not to know Jesus on the night of imprisonment, the Risen King still chooses to confront and redeem Peter. 

Peter’s arc from denial to forgiveness explores the transformative power of God's grace. Easter is always an effective time to remind the congregation and holiday visitors that no matter how far we may have fallen, redemption is possible through Christ's resurrection.

As faith speaker and author, Michelle Cushatt, puts it:

“Like Peter, I’ve long been a disciple, albeit a poor one. [...] Although I love Jesus, I often fail Him. Even so, following Jesus has taught me practices that proved firm. Like a slow and steady renovation, these practices strengthened me a little at a time so that, when the storms came, my faith remained.”

All believers are capable of falling short in their faith. Easter is a good reminder of how the resurrection of Jesus redeems us. 

3. From Death to Life: Our Resurrection Story

The story of Jesus’s resurrection can be a strong way of encouraging the congregation to reflect on their personal faith journey. Pastors can share stories of individuals who have experienced spiritual resurrection –– emphasizing that Easter is not just a historical event, but an ongoing, personal experience of moving from spiritual death to life. This concept can allow the congregation to draw parallels between the death and resurrection of Jesus, to what it means to no longer be of the flesh and to live by the spirit. 

As Paul tells us in Romans 8:9-11: 
“But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” 

To emphasize this idea of overcoming the death of our flesh and finding life in God’s Spirit, pastors can even use a portion of the Easter sermon to share testimonies from willing members of the congregation. 

According to Dustin Crowe of church development organization, 9Marks, “We’re taught not only by sermons, songs, and prayers but also by stories rehearsing what God has done for us, in us, and among us.”  

4. Triumph Over Tragedy: Lessons from the Resurrection

This Easter, pastors can address the theme of triumph over tragedy by exploring how the resurrection turned the disciples' despair into joy. While we have the advantage of knowing that Jesus rose from the tomb, three days after the crucifixion, it might be easy for us to forget that the disciples had to spend those three days in despair. 

As Shari Abbot of Reasons for Hope* Jesus reflects:

“The disciples must have been exceedingly sad and overwhelmingly sorrowful. Despair and disillusionment must have filled their hearts and minds. Their Lord was gone. He had left them. They were alone and they felt confused. What was to become of them? What was to become of the mission that Jesus had given them?”

This piece of the Easter story serves as a good reminder to the congregation that when the days seem dark, and we can’t see what God is doing in the midst of the challenges we face, we must remain hopeful and trust that God’s goodness will prevail. 

Upon the disciples' learning of Jesus' resurrection, they were once again filled with hope and encouraged to spread the gospel as Jesus ascended to heaven. From this, Levan Wee of faith non-profit Thirst explains

“By His sovereign will, God may choose not to immediately let us know the details of His bigger plan for our lives. When He doesn’t, it’s tempting for us to fall into sorrow and think that nothing’s changing. We may even feel God has abandoned us, leaving us to wallow in our personal worries and confusion. However, as the Road to Emmaus episode teaches us, God is actually always in our midst, walking with us every step of the way. We just may not notice His presence at first.”

5. The Great Commission: Easter's Call to Action

Lastly, one of the biggest takeaways of the Easter sermon is the church’s call to action, drawing from the Great Commission. After His resurrection, and before ascending into heaven, Jesus leaves the disciples with His final instruction: 

“(...) All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Pastors can use this opportunity to challenge the congregation in sharing the resurrection message with others, embodying the transformative power of Easter in their communities and beyond. 

A Helpful Tool For Crafting Your Easter Sermon

With the Easter message being such an intersection for many of Jesus’s teachings, promises and fulfillments –– along with many parallels to our own faith journeys ––  it can be challenging to structure such an important sermon. 

With the help of sermon preparation tools, pastors now have an easier way of generating effective sermon outlines, prompting verses and Bible stories related to the topic of Easter, creating character studies, and even coming up with modern day examples of Biblical stories, that can assist in an effective sermon for the holiday.  

Preaching A Message of Victory

Easter provides a unique opportunity for pastors to inspire and uplift the congregation and holiday visitors with messages of hope, redemption, and renewal. By exploring these five sermon ideas, pastors can deliver impactful messages that resonate with the true essence of Easter –– Jesus’ triumph of life over death and the promise of a new beginning in Christ.

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