While the plot and the context of a story are critical, the central characters are really what makes a story unique. The characters or central figures in a story are inseparable from the story itself. If you alter the character of the central figure, the story is not even the same story.
For example, if you alter the character of the narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Tell-Tale Heart” from a regretful murderer who is haunted by his sins to a psychopath who feels no regret, the story is not the same. If you alter Michael’s character in The Godfather from a cerebral and calculated gangster to a hotheaded one like his brother Sonny, the story would be very different. If you change Jean Valjean’s character in Les Miserables from a man melted by grace and forgiveness into a hardened man, the story would not be the epic classic that it is today.
If you change the essence of the central figure, the story is completely altered.
As we approach our Easter celebrations, let us hold firmly to the character of Jesus, the central figure in the Story of Scripture and the central figure in our redemption story.
He is God.
Jesus did not merely claim to be God. He proved His deity with His perfect life, His miracles, and His resurrection from the dead. He is not a mere mortal, not simply a good example. He is God in the flesh who conquered death.
As we see movies depicting His death, see images showing His suffering—we must remind people that He was not a victim, not a powerless figure in a cruel story, not someone who was caught off guard by the onslaughts. He is God in the ultimate rescue Story.
As God, He is able to save us from our sins. As Man, He was able to suffer. He became man just so He could suffer for us, so He could conquer the grave for us. Jonathan Edwards wrote:
Let it rest on your heart. Christ became incarnate, or, which is the same thing, became man, to put himself in a capacity for working out our redemption. For though Christ, as God, was infinitely sufficient for the work, yet to his being in an immediate capacity for it, it was needful that he should not only be God, but man. If Christ had remained only in the divine nature, he would not have been in a capacity to have purchased our salvation; not from any imperfection of the divine nature, but by reason of its absolute and infinite perfection: for Christ, merely as God, was not capable either of that obedience or suffering that was needful. The divine nature is not capable of suffering; for it is infinitely above all suffering.
Our sermons, our churches, our ministries, and our lives are emptied of all power if we present His character as anything less than the holy and eternal God who took on flesh to rescue us—or if we fail to present His character at all.
Pastor, as you prepare for your Easter sermon, don’t offer mere advice on a subject you think will grab attention. Preach the Story with our eternal and conquering King Jesus as the centerpiece. Don’t drift. Don’t offer a lesser story.