Sermon Illustrations


Kyle Idelman writes:

It was a Thursday afternoon, and I was sitting in our sanctuary where 30,000 people would soon be coming to one of our Easter services. I had no idea what I was going to say to them. I could feel the pressure mounting. I sat there hoping that a sermon would come to mind. I looked around at the empty seats, hoping for some inspiration; instead, there was just more perspiration. I wiped the sweat off my brow and looked down. "This sermon needs to be good," I told myself. There are some people who only come to church on Christmas and Easter. I wanted to make sure they all came back. "What could I say to get their attention? How could I make my message more appealing? Is there something creative I could do that would be a big hit and get people talking?" Still nothing.

There was a Bible on the chair in front of me. I grabbed it, but I couldn't think of one passage that would "wow" them...Finally, a thought crossed my mind: "I wonder what Jesus taught whenever he had the big crowds." What...I found (is) that when Jesus had large crowds, he would often preach a message that would be more likely to drive listeners away rather than encourage them to return for next week's message.

When Easter weekend came, I was so convicted that I stood up and began my sermon with an apology, "I'm sorry for sometimes selling Jesus cheap and watering down the gospel in hopes that more of you would fill these seats." I followed up with a sermon entitled, "Not a Fan." We went word-for-word though Luke 9:23--Jesus' invitation to follow him--and honestly asked ourselves, "Am I a fan or a follower of Jesus?" The dictionary defines fans as "enthusiastic admirers. Jesus was never interested in enthusiastic admirers; he wanted completely committed followers. He wants more from us than a hand raised or a prayer repeated at the end the service. He is looking for more than a prayer before a meal and a Jesus fish on the back of the car. He wants more than fans; he wants followers who take up a cross and die to themselves.

And then he writes, "there is no believing without following, no salvation without surrender, no forgiveness without repentance, and no life without death."

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