By Fred Luter, Pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church New Orleans and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention
NEW ORLEANS – Ever since I started as pastor at Franklin Avenue, the Easter season has been special to me and our congregation.
No matter what I’m preaching on, when the month of Easter arrives I will stop that series and concentrate on the events leading up to Good Friday and resurrection Sunday.
A lot of new Christians never hear all the details of the Easter story, but I want all my members to know that one of Jesus’ own disciples, Judas, betrayed him, and another, Peter, denied him.
I start with that Thursday prayer in the garden and give all the details leading up to the kangaroo court that tried Christ. I share the grim descriptions of His beating and narrate His walk while carrying that old rugged cross up Golgotha’s hill. I give a vivid mental picture of Him being nailed to the cross – nails in his hand, nails in his feet – and the spear being thrust in his side, crown of thorns on his head.
Then I try to get them to imagine hearing those seven cries Jesus uttered from the cross before he died.
But, then I emphasize the hope of resurrection Sunday, Christ raised from the grave and an empty tomb.
I focus on this part of the Easter story, because it’s this element that’s so critical to our faith. The resurrection is so crucial to our lives as believers.
If Jesus had not died and shed his blood, we would still be in our sins.
I can’t think about demonstration of Christ’s love for us without also thinking of the old refrain, “There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains.”
The resurrection is something every pastor in every church should take the time to emphasize.
The only hope we have living in this sin-sick world is in the power of the resurrection – that Jesus rose from the grave and one day is coming back again!