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B Easter

The Easter season the most significant time in the entire Christian calendar. It begins on Palm Sunday and continues through Pentecost Sunday. This web page contains descriptions and links to sermon notes full of ideas for preachers. It can also serve as devotional material for anyone else. Each sermon is linked to the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B.

In the listing below, clicking on a sermon title takes you to a Google Doc of the sermon notes. You can view/print these from any browser, or download the file in various formats (such as Word, RTF, or PDF). If you are using a version of Word prior to 2007 you may need to download it in RTF. Then it will open with most (if not all) the formatting intact.

You can also access any of these sermons from the Sermon Chart, which displays them in the context of the entire 3-year lectionary cycle. Browse down the second column until you see the lectionary season of interest. To access the sermon notes just click on the sermon title.

Not a lectionary preacher? You can change the Sermon Chart so that it lists the sermons in the order of the primary biblical text for each sermon. In the Sermon Chart, browse down to the chart and look at the right-hand column. Click on Sort: Ascending. Notice that many sermons list additional scriptures. If you want to find all entries for a particular biblical book from the whole list just use your browser's Find function. The top of the Sermon Chart web page explains the biblical text abbreviation system I use.

For more about the Revised Common Lectionary, click on Lectionary Basics and Lectionary Preaching.

Feel free to extract any ideas, outlines, or entire sermons from my site. That's what it is for. To subscribe to email or RSS notifications of new posts from this site, click IsbellOnline News.


Stand-alone sermons

Palm Sunday: Descending into Greatness

Philippians 2.5-11. Jesus did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.

Thesis: We are called to follow our Lord's example and descend into greatness.

This sermon starts with a reflexive, using questions such as Your boss says your company is being reorganized and your job is history. But good for you, there are 2 other positions that you can apply for. One represents a promotion, the other a demotion. Which interests you more? Then it moves on to show how the Christian gospel turns the worldly drive for everything to "go up and to the right" on its proverbial head. 

And it shows how Jesus, himself, descended into greatness. And he did so to deal with the one thing that we desperately need someone to deal with - because we cannot deal with on our own: sin. Near the end is an unpacking of the classic "sin gap," along with an offer of salvation. This sermon is my repackaging of the thinking in Descending into Greatness.

Easter Sunday: Dealing with Doubt

John 20.1-18 (The Resurrection)

The supposed conflict between faith and reason are really a conflict between faith systems, and to live a Christian life we must learn to deal with some uncertainty.

2Easter: People of the Cross

John 20.18-23 (the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples), Acts 4.23-31, 1 John 1.6-2.2

Thesis: In order to live as authentic “people of the cross” we must submit to God’s process of killing the “lizard” that we carry around with us every day.

The "lizard" concept comes from C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. This sermon includes a powerful 3-person reading from a section of that book.

2Easter: A Biblically Functioning Community

Ephesians 3.10-11 (God's purpose for the church in the broader world), Acts 2.42-47, 4.32-35 (The believers form a community and share their possessions.)

Thesis: The church is not designed to be a lifestyle enclave, but a community that embodies the characteristics of Acts 2 and 4.

At the core of this sermon are these 6 characteristics of a biblically functioning community:

  1. They devoted themselves.
  2. They were of one heart and soul.
  3. They shared with each other.
  4. They lived in awe of God's activity among them.
  5. They devoted some meaningful attention to people outside their community.

4 Easter: Exclusivity

Acts 4.5-12 (Peter and John before the Council)

Thesis: There is salvation only through Jesus Christ, whether people know the Good News of Jesus Christ or not.

This sermon uses some material from Timothy Keller's book The Reason for God. The sermon is designed to help people think through their resistance to Christian faith because of its perceived exclusivity. 

4Easter: Mark of a Christian

1 John 3.11-24 (Love on another)

Thesis: The mark of Christian faith that God designed for outsiders to recognize is how Christians love one another.

The core concept for this sermon comes from Francis A. Schaeffer’s book by the same title.

6Easter: Moving from the House of Fear to the House of Love

John 15.1-17 (Jesus, the true vine)

Thesis: Life lived in the house of love is marked by intimacy, fruitfulness, and ecstasy.

The core ideas of this sermon come from Lifesigns, by Henri Nouwen. I routinely use these concepts in pre-marriage counseling. Elsewhere I posted a short wedding exhortation based on these same ideas. 

Series oriented sermons

Easter and 2Easter: Simply Christian 2-sermon series

This is a 2-sermon series that unpacks the core truths of Christian faith. It is designed for consecutive Sundays. In my case, I preached these on Easter and the Sunday following. The source material for this series is N.T. Wright's book Simply Christian. Click on the heading link just above for the web page describing the series and the links to the supporting materials. 

10 Big Ideas of Christian Faith

It won't surprise you that 2 of the 10 Big Ideas are the Resurrection and Pentecost.

Easter Sunday: The Resurrection

Pentecost Sunday: Life in the Spirit

Managing the Gap

This is a 3-sermon series designed for consecutive Sundays, beginning with Easter. The first message deals with the gap between our external expectations and internal reality. The second message unpacks entire sanctification and holiness. Most readers will find some very fresh and practical perspective here.

Easter Sunday: Crucifixion, Resurrection and the Gap

2Easter: Sanctification and the Gap

3Easter: The Sanctification of Saint Paul

Paschal Mystery

This series is complete in only 2 Sundays: Easter and Pentecost. For more on its content follow the link to Paschal Mystery.

Easter: After Death... New Life

Pentecost: After New Life... New Spirit

Courage in the Face of Fear

This 4-sermon series is about courageous living in the face of fear. It connects directly to the lectionary scripture set of Year B's Easter season, weeks 4, 5, 6, and 7. For an overview of click Courageous Living

4Easter: Dealing with Bad Fears

5 Easter: Responding to Fear

6Easter: Courage in the Face of Fear 

7Easter: What is the Fear of God all about?

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