What was your Easter sermon about? How did your pastor preach the cross and the resurrection on Sunday? Probably the most important question to be asked and answered on Easter Sunday is this: Why was Christ crucified and why did he rise from the dead?
Answers to this question are numerous:
- Christ died to show us the ultimate example of love.
- Christ died to give us new life.
- Christ died to heal our wounds, to make us whole, and to show us how to live.
- Christ was crucified so that we could spend eternity with Him in heaven.
Each of the above reasons are true in some sense. But if this is all we say about the cross, we have failed to preach fullness of the cross. In the words of J.I. Packer, “a half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth.” In other words, if we only preach the benefits of the cross we are liable to be preaching heresy. If we neglect to preach the stark reality that we are vile sinners who have done nothing to merit the grace of God but instead have only merited God’s righteous indignation and wrath, we have failed to truly preach the cross.
Think about the Easter narrative. Do you really think Jesus wept in the garden because he knew he was going to be crucified? Do you really think Jesus, cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” merely because of the physical pain of crucifixion? I know the cross was incredibly painful, but thousands of Christians have died by crucifixion and some of them died singing hymns of thankfulness to God in the process! Jesus sweat drops of blood in the garden and cried out in agony on the cross because He was facing the full wrath of God on the cross. He was facing God’s holy wrath and indignation for sin on behalf of all who believe on Christ. On the cross Jesus became sin for us, so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
What did you hear preached on Sunday morning? If we sacrifice the whole truth for a half truth, we might win more hearers, but in doing so we have ceased to preach the gospel and we have begun to deceive our hearers.