How do you write a message/teaching? And when it’s about Easter, where do you even begin to approach that? In this post, I share with you, from start to finish, how our Easter Series came about.
As his death was drawing nearer, Jesus went to a garden to pray. And he said, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow – to the point of death.”
This year, our student ministry looked at the Easter story from Mark’s perspective, primarily, but I had some literary elements sprinkled throughout, making this one of the most elaborate 3week series I’ve ever done. We used the song from David Crowder called “Sometimes” for the title as well as the visual direction for the entire series: aches and hurts and needs unable to see the shore, until those aches and hurts and needs become engulfed and lost in the love of Jesus.
To begin the series, I started at the end. I asked, “What do they need to do?”
They need cling to the death and resurrection of Jesus as their hope. Mark 16:1-6a illustrates this. From there, Charles Dickens’ quotes started surfacing, and so that message started with, “Marley was dead, to begin with.” Because, essentially, Jesus was dead, to begin with. The beginning of great began with the end of good. Jesus’ life was good, but his resurrection leads to life. It’s through his resurrection that one can have life.
And that’s not just good; that’s great.
From there, I went backwards in Scripture, looking at the chronology of those last moments. Chronologically, and for the impact of the series, the next questions were, “What happened next?,” “What do they need to know?,” and “What stories will advance the idea of hopelessness and drive the need to see our Rescuer?”
For that, the stories of Barabbas being released and Peter denying Jesus fit best.
In the story of Barabbas, we see envy driving the crowd. In a sense, envy and dissatisfaction with what we have drives us, doesn’t it? Not being content with what we have leads us to do things we don’t want to do in order to get things that we don’t really need. And that’s a vicious cycle. Envy exalts self, elevating your contentment above others, leading you away from where you need to be.
A cycle that breeds hopelessness.
The story of Peter’s denial served as the final key to the series, which ended up being the lead-off message. Peter distanced himself from Jesus as he denied his Rescuer three times.
And we do that too, when things get tough, don’t we?
Despair leads to distancing.
Envy exalts self.
We are dying to be alive.
That’s the beauty of the Gospel:
- Despair leads to distancing, but a shore restores.
- Envy exalts self, but when you follow the way of Jesus, self isn’t the top priority. Instead, the opposite of envy says, “Make much of others.”
- We are dying to be alive, but to be fully alive, you must die to yourself. The beginning of great begins with the end of the good.
The series ended the way it began, with the song “Sometimes,” as we boldly shouted, “It’s Your love that we adore/it’s like a sea without a shore/we’re lost in You…”
Below are images of my notes for this series. The first image is my “launching pad” paper, where you see that I brainstormed the series from finish to start, complete with Dickens quotes, passages to use, and points to drive home. The second and third images are scans of my notes (pre-typed; I always write my notes before I type them into an outline) for one of the lessons.
Happy Easter. He is risen!