Should Every Sermon End with the Cross?

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    One Friday evening, he died on the cross for your sins and mine! They buried him in Joseph’s new tomb! But early Sunday morning, he rose from the dead with all power in his hands!

    The church tradition I grew up in expected the preacher to end the sermon by going to the cross.

    My father ended his sermons with a summarizing illustration of whatever text he preached. But many other preachers I heard closed their messages with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Some claim if you do not go to Calvary at the end. And you better not leave Jesus on the cross! Get him down early Sunday morning.

    Should every sermon end with the cross?

    Charles Spurgeon claimed that he did the same thing in every sermon. He took a text and immediately made a beeline to the cross. Amen!

    It is always proper to talk about the redemptive work of Christ in preaching. But mentioning the cross at the end of a sermon should not be like the singing the national anthem at the beginning of a game – a moment of respect tacked on to what we really came to do.

    If the sermon has not be Scripture-driven, Christ-centered, and gospel-saturated, you don’t honor the Lord Jesus and his saving work with a passing mention during the closing credits of your sermon.

    If the sermon will end with an invitation or call to discipleship, it is wise to end the sermon presenting the gospel to clearly impress the message on your hearers as you close.

    But your preaching is theologically schizophrenic if it is about man for the first 35 minutes and then about Christ the last 5 minutes. Moreover, you present a poor example of Bible interpretation if Christ is hidden from view the entire message and then you make him magically appear for a cameo at the end.

    Paul counseled Timothy to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). But that does not mean every sermon should be evangelistic. You should present the gospel in every sermon. But not every sermon is evangelistic.

    As a pastor, you will be preaching to the gathered church on Sundays. Consequently, there will many Sundays where it will be better to end the sermon that calls the saints to respond to a Christian truth, command, or promise, not ending at the cross.

    It is important for the church to hear the facts of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). But there is a reason the New Testament includes both the Gospels and the Epistles.

    The saints need to hear the facts and the meaning of Christ’s redemptive work. The congregation needs to hear that Jesus died and rose again. But they need to understand why this happened and what it means. That cannot happen if you think you have done your job by telling them he died and rose again at the end of the sermon.

    You ask, is it wrong if you do not go to the cross at the end of the sermon? I ask, it is right if you have not been near the cross the entire sermon?


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.