“Dead Man Walking” — My Easter Sermon

Since I’m no longer a pastor, and pastors want to be in their pulpits on Easter Sunday for good reason, I rarely preach an Easter sermon any more. But I love this wonderful day and all it represents.  Here is a message on one aspect of the Lord’s resurrection…

The text is John 12:9-11….

“Now, a great many of the Jews knew that (Jesus) was (in Bethany at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus); and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.”


When the family goes with dad to a convention, they hope it’s in a location like Orlando so there are plenty of activities for everyone. If possible, they like to arrive a couple of days early or stick around after the meeting for fun activities.

It has always been this way.

In the first century, Jewish families traveled long distances for Passover in Jerusalem. This was their big event of the year. The family’s calendar revolved around the Passover Trip. And, lest we misunderstand at this remote distance, the trip–all on foot or by slow animals–was not all drudgery either. Families joined up together and crowds made the trek over several days. Cousins who had not seen each other in a year excitedly hugged and chatted and played. Romances were formed among young people on these annual outings.

Once the families arrived in Jerusalem’s outskirts, they erected makeshift tents and set up housekeeping for a week of religious and social activities. And then they began looking.

The parents were giving in to the cries of their children. “What is there to do here?” “Is there anything for the children!”

And then someone told them.

Over in Bethany–just on the back side of the Mount of Olives–there is a man who was dead for four whole days. And yes, it was Jesus, the Nazarene, who raised him to life.

“Let’s go see!”

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Windows Reflecting The Resurrection

I love to find a story in an old book that stops me in my tracks and provides a great illustration of some spiritual truth. The book may be old, but the story is a fresh insight and any congregation appreciates that.

First, a tiny bit of history which pertains to both stories that follow. At the end, I’ll give the sources for the stories.

In June of 1940, when the Nazis took over France, they sealed off the northernmost two-thirds of the country and left the southern one-third to the administration of the French government which was headquartered in the small town of Vichy. Thereafter, Vichy France, while imperfect in a hundred ways, became known as Free France and the longed-for destination of countrymen suffering under Nazi control. The Germans did everything they could to prevent citizens from crossing the borders and escaping.

First story: A door in the back of the cemetery.

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Helping Mark With His Easter Sermon

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.” (John 20:1)

Mark is a young pastor in his first church, and is still laboring under the back-breaking, death-defying habit of getting up on Monday morning and deciding what he will preach the following Sunday. That’s why today, Monday before Easter, when I threw out my weekly question to him and the other two pastors–Jim and Carl–he had only a partial answer.

“I knew you were going to ask that,” he laughed. I had said, “What are you preaching this Sunday?” This is the one Sunday of the year that almost no preacher varies from the subject on everyone’s mind, the resurrection of Jesus. But Scripture has so much to say on the subject that a pastor can pick a text and head out in a hundred directions.

Mark said, “All I have is an idea. In Easter, we have the open tomb, right? Well, it seems to me that that’s not all that was opened on Easter Sunday morning.” He paused and said, “I haven’t figured out what, but I know there has to be an answer to that!”

I said, “All right, guys. We have our assignment. Mark wants our help with this sermon.”

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