Lent is to Easter what Advent is to Christmas. Listen in to this series to hear more about the meaning and importance of Lent and the supreme importance of Easter. And in this conversation we talk about how we as Christians have gotten our holiday priorities upside down and how we can begin to right them. Join us in making much about Easter!
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Remembering the Resurrection
Guest: Barbara Rainey
From the series: Ideas for Celebrating Easter (Day 2 of 5)
Air date: March 28, 2017
Bob: The great hymn writer, Isaac Watts, knew the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection—he wrote: “When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count as loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.” Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: When you think about what Jesus did for us, we should be speechless; we should be in awe; we should fall on our faces. That’s the kind of experience / that’s the kind of emotion—that’s what I think we need in Easter. It shouldn’t be a holiday that we just kind of say, “Oh, well.” We need to feel some of what Jesus felt; and we need to be in awe; and we need to marvel over what He did for us.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, March 28th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.
We’ll hear today from Barbara Rainey about things we can do to help prepare our hearts so that we can, indeed, marvel at all Christ has done as we celebrate His resurrection. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. If this was last year, Easter would be over—or almost over.
Barbara: It would be; yes.
Bob: You know, one of the things that makes celebrating Easter more of a challenge for us is that it’s not on the same day every year!
Bob: I mean, Thanksgiving moves—but it’s always the fourth Thursday in November.
Barbara: But it doesn’t ever change months.
Barbara: It’s always near the end of the month; so even if the date moves, it doesn’t move very far.
Bob: But Easter can be anywhere from, I think—March 22nd or 23rd—I think it’s about the earliest it can be—
Barbara: Yes; yes.
Bob: —to where it is now, which is April 16th—or even later than that.
Barbara: Oh, it can be later; because a couple of years ago, it was on the 23rd.
Bob: Well, it’s obvious we’ve got your wife joining us, again, this week on FamilyLife Today.
Bob: You just jumped right in; didn’t you?
Barbara: I did; yes! [Laughter]
Bob: This is one of those topics that you just jump in on, right from the start.
Barbara: Yes; I kind of care about this a little bit. [Laughter]
Bob: In fact, one of the things you’re hoping for this year is to motivate, equip, and inspire a lot of moms and dads to make Easter more central in their home, in the weeks leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, but even, specifically, during Holy Week—
Bob: —and then during Easter weekend.
Barbara: Yes; that’s right. We’ve just totally missed—I’ve said it often in the last couple of years—that Jesus commanded us to remember His death and to focus on His resurrection. He never said that He wants us to celebrate His birth. And what have we done, as Christians? We’ve completely flipped it upside down, which is typical of us—to get what He said completely wrong—
—just realizing that we put so much time and energy in on Christmas, and He didn’t ask us to do that—and we put so little time and energy on celebrating Easter; and He did tell us to celebrate, and remember, and commemorate what He did for us. It’s kind of like: “Well, duh! Of course, we need to do more about Easter.”
I’m on a personal campaign for my own family to make Easter memorable / to make it a very big deal—to celebrate / to have a fancy meal. I don’t even know what we’re going to eat this year, but we’re going to knock it out of the park; because I just don’t want it to be an ordinary Sunday anymore. I want it to be something that really stands out in our memories—that that Sunday / Easter Sunday was like no other Sunday.
Bob: You have enlisted some help—you’ve put together a survey and started getting results back.
Barbara: I did; yes. Last spring, I sent out a survey to a fairly large group.
It’s probably not scientifically accurate; but nonetheless, we sent out a survey to a bunch of people that we know—who have used some of the products that we’ve created/the resources that we’ve created with their families—who seem to care about Easter and want to make more of Easter. I sent them a long list of questions, and I had so much fun reading their answers.
There were all kinds of really creative ideas for how to celebrate Easter and make it special, make it set apart, and make it different than any other Sunday. I compiled all of those. I’m hoping that we can get to some of the best ones, in the next couple of days, as we talk about this together; because there were some really good ideas—some that I’m going to adopt and do myself.
Bob: Can you give us an example of one?
Barbara: Yes; I would love to give you an idea. One family wrote and said that they acted out the Palm Sunday story every year with their kids. They got out the Bible—they read the story right out of the Bible of Jesus making His triumphal entry on the donkey into Jerusalem, with all of the palm branches and everything.
Acting it out at home is a little different than Palm Sunday at church, when the kids all come in with their palm branches; because, at home, they can put on robes and put things over their head, and they can sort of act out the different characters, and make up speeches of what they think the disciples might have said, or what the people might have said on the side of the road. There’s something about acting out the Bible stories with a family.
When we used to do it, I always watched. There were some of our kids—you could tell the lights were going on / they were going, “Oh!” as they acted out this particular situation in the Bible. There’s something about it that makes it real, and it sinks into their soul in a deeper way.
So one really easy idea for a family, especially if you’ve got kids 12 and under, is to read the Palm Sunday story—and get out some robes, and bath towels, and things—and let them act out the scene.
Dennis: And, of course, dad has got to be the donkey! [Laughter]
Barbara: Yes! Of course—Dad’s always the donkey! [Laughter]
Bob: Beast of burden, right here! [Laughter]
Dennis: That’s right!
Bob: You know, it’s interesting; because there are a lot of churches today that—you go on Palm Sunday, and you’ll never know it is Palm Sunday.
Barbara: Yes; sadly.
Bob: I’m remembering carrying palm branches in, as a kid, during the worship service and singing specific hymns that we used to sing [singing]: “Hosanna, loud hosanna, to Jesus Christ our King!” We had all of these songs—
Barbara: Yes; yes.
Bob: —All Glory, Laud, and Honor was a big hymn you would sing on Palm Sunday every year.
Barbara: Yes; we did it too.
Bob: But in many of our churches today—
Barbara: —it’s just another Sunday.
Dennis: And don’t miss the raw reality of Christ coming on a donkey. He was the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and He came riding in on one of the lowliest of all of the creatures God made. He could have come on a magnificent, white stallion. No; He waits to do that in Revelation, Chapter 19—that’s quite a scene!
Bob: You spoke, a few years ago, with an audience of FamilyLife Today listeners, talking with them about this idea of how to set Easter apart in your home and make it more than we make of it. We want to listen today to Part Two of what you shared with those listeners. So here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: I want to give you four suggestions / four ways that you might begin to make Easter a more important holiday for you and your family. I would hope and pray that perhaps you would influence others—maybe even your church—to find ways to celebrate Easter in a more meaningful way that properly exalts and magnifies Him for what He has done for us.
So here’s my first suggestion on how to elevate Easter this year. Number one: “Forget the bunnies and the chicks.” They have absolutely nothing to do with Easter; and yet—I’ve been watching for the last few years—and that’s all there is in stores.
That’s what I see on people’s front doors / it’s what I see in their yards. It’s what I see, everywhere, related to Easter.
Now, we Christians have found some really creative uses for eggs. FamilyLife has “Resurrection Eggs®” as a resource that we’ve created to help families or help churches communicate the gospel and the story of the resurrection to children. So it’s a dozen eggs—and each egg has a symbol of what happened in Jesus’ life—and it points to the resurrection, with the last egg being empty to illustrate the empty tomb.
I’ve also thought through how interesting it is that Paul said in the Scripture—he said, “When I was a child, I thought like a child; but when I became an adult, I put away childish things.” “Resurrection Eggs” are for kids, and they’re great for kids; but I’m not going to decorate with bunnies and chicks anymore. I want my house to reflect the resurrection of Christ and what’s true about Him.
I think part of the reason that we do focus on those things is because they’re cute, and they’re easy, and they’re nice. There are some facts about the resurrection that are not particularly attractive, and they’re not easy to know what to do with. So, my first suggestion is to get rid of those things that don’t have anything to do with Christ and focus on Him.
My second suggestion is: “Don’t dismiss the difficult.” See, the resurrection is a real difficult concept; isn’t it? It’s all about blood; it’s all about death; and it’s all about betrayal. It’s really hard, isn’t it, for us to understand that? What’s Christmas about? It’s about a baby; it’s about presents; it’s about stars; and it’s about angels. Christmas is a feel-good holiday. Easter is not a feel-good holiday. But I think, as believers, we’ve got to move into that which is difficult.
I don’t think we should run away from it. Jesus told us to commemorate His death / He told us to commemorate His resurrection. One of the things that He said—that I just can’t quite get over—He said in John 12:49, “I do nothing on my own initiative.” He said, “I always do the things that are pleasing to the Father.” Now, think about that for a minute—Jesus said, “I do nothing”— nothing/nothing—“on my own initiative.”
Now, if you’re anything like me—and you are—I do lots of things on my own initiative. I’m always making decisions that are good for me. I’m always thinking about what I want to do / where I want to go. I do a lot on my own initiative. But Jesus never did one single thing on His own initiative.
And because He did nothing on His own initiative, He rejected any whispers that He heard in His ear from the enemy to walk away from the cross. He submitted His life to the evil plans of wicked priests, who had schemes that they were trying to work. He willingly shed His blood for you and for me. So, I want to challenge you: “Don’t dismiss the difficult.”
The third thing I want to challenge you to do is: “Focus on the Lamb.” If you want a softer symbol for Easter, the Lamb is it; because in the book of John—when John the Baptist saw Jesus—he called Him what?—the Lamb of God. He said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
When you focus on the Lamb, and you learn about what He did, and you learn about Passover, and you learn about the sacrifice that God required, then Easter Sunday is so much more meaningful; because you understand why Jesus had to do what He had to do.
To think that He did this because He loved us—it’s all the more stunning / it’s all the more shocking. Focus on the Lamb / learn about the Lamb. Jesus said, in
Hebrews 10:5—He said, “A body Thou hast prepared for Me.” The body Jesus had was destined, from the very beginning, to be slain for us; because He was the Lamb of God. From the very beginning, Jesus was destined for sacrifice. He voluntarily gave His perfectly-lived life on the cross for me and for you. Good Friday is good because of the Lamb. I want to challenge you to: “Focus on the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
And then number four: I want to challenge you to: “Marvel at the miracle.” Have you ever witnessed a miraculous event happen? Or have you been to a really amazing geographical place like the Grand Canyon, or Niagara Falls, or Victoria Falls?—
—something that just takes your breath away? When you go to a place like that, or you see something like that, we’re often speechless. I want to read you something that John Piper says in his book—it’s called The Passion of Jesus Christ. It’s 50 chapters—just two little short-page chapters each—about all the reasons why Jesus had to die. He said:
The most astonishing thing is that evil and suffering were Christ’s appointed way of victory over evil and suffering. Every act of treachery and brutality against Jesus was sinful and evil, but God was in it. The Bible says, “Jesus was delivered up to death, according to the plan and foreknowledge of God.”
The lash on His back, the thorns on His head, the spit on His cheek, the bruises on His face, the nails in His hand, the desertion by the disciples, the betrayal of a friend, and the scorn of the rulers—
—all designed by God to destroy the power of sin. Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, did “whatever Your hand and Your plan had predetermined to take place.”
And that last verse is out of Acts.
So, when you think about what Jesus did for us, we should be speechless; we should be in awe; we should fall on our faces. That’s the kind of experience / that’s the kind of emotion—that’s what I think we need in Easter. It shouldn’t be a holiday that we just kind of go, “Oh well.” We need to feel some of what Jesus felt. We need to be in awe, and we need to marvel over what He did for us.
So how do you marvel at Easter? Do you prepare for days, creating an all-day celebration like none other, all year long?—
—maybe. That might be a good idea. Or do you jump, and cheer, and even cry for joy, as so many of us do for our favorite sports teams? When was the last time you were in a group of people, and you celebrated Christ’s resurrection, and everyone jumped, and cheered, and screamed, and hollered, and did like this—like we do for sports teams? I watch these stadiums, full of people, who are just jumping, and cheering, and just screaming their lungs out! But what do we do in church? It’s okay—we don’t all have to do that—but on Easter Sunday / on the day that Christ rose from the dead and rescued us—for us to sit there as if it’s just any old other Sunday—I don’t think so / I don’t think so.
Another question: “Do you dance with abandon like David did when the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Jerusalem?”
He was so exultant / he was so excited that God’s presence was back that he danced for joy. Again, I think that’s a good example for us to consider, as we think about Easter. How can we, as parishioners / how can we, as the people of the church, as believers in Christ, make Easter something that calls out that kind of celebration, that kind of worship, that kind of joy in us so that the world says: “Well, I wonder what’s going on over there? Why are they so excited? I want to know!”
I want to challenge you to make a difference this year. I am praying, regularly, that God would grant us the favor, and the ideas, and the creativity, and the stamina to come up with some really cool ideas for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I’m praying that many of you will be a part of that—that many of you will think of some ideas / that many of you will come up with something that your church can do. What can you do to celebrate, all day, on Resurrection Sunday? I believe that you can make a difference, and I believe that God wants to use you to make a difference in this holiday.
I want to mention a couple of things; but before I do that, I want to remind you of that verse [from Thou Art Coming to a King hymn]:
Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring.
For His grace and power are such
None can ever ask too much.
I want to challenge you to think about that in relation to your life, in relation to your church, and in relation to Easter too.
I want to close with a little prayer—it’s in the back of this book by John Piper that I think is really appropriate:
Father, I pray for us—I pray for all of us—that the fog of our indifference to eternal things would be lifted.
I pray that the reality of heaven and hell would become clear to us. I pray that the centrality of Christ in the history of the world would become plain; and that His passion, His sacrifice, His death would be seen as the most important event that ever happened.
[Not part of Piper’s prayer]:
And I pray, Father, that You will grant me and many in this room ideas, and creativity, and motivation. Help us, Father, to elevate the celebration of Easter—the celebration of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection--to a place that is worthy of what He did for us. I ask this that You might be honored and glorified. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to Barbara Rainey as she has been sharing with a group of FamilyLife Today listeners about how to make Easter more significant in your home.
And this was before you had done the survey you did last spring, where you asked people for ideas. You got some pretty interesting ideas.
Barbara: I got some great ideas. One of the ideas that I want to share just briefly hinges back to what Dennis said, a few minutes ago, about Revelation—the whole idea that one day, we will be married / we will be in a wedding ceremony—there will be a marriage of us, as the believers, to Jesus, the Lamb of God. It says in Revelation 19:8, “It was granted to her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure, for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”
You know, for a long time on Easter, people wore white. I always wondered, “Why did they wear white?” I think this is why they wore white—I think two reasons, actually: One is because it honors the purity of Christ’s life and His sacrifice on our behalf; but I think it also looks forward to the day when we will be pure and righteous as He is, and we will be dressed in all white.
I’m looking forward, this year, to making this a white Easter. I’m going to challenge everybody I know / I’m going to encourage my kids to begin thinking about, “What can we wear that’s white to symbolize who Christ is, and what He did, and what we will look like someday?” I wanted to say that now, because we women need time to kind of get ready. We might need to dig through our closets / we may need to do some shopping; but—[Laughter] In other words—
Dennis: I’m thinking, “What will I wear?”
Bob: Does Dennis have white?
Barbara: No; he doesn’t. It’s not just wearing white / it’s wearing shades of white.
Bob: There is a significance of wearing white—Revelation 19 declares it—
Barbara: Yes; yes.
Bob: —the “righteous deeds of the saints.” Ultimately, our righteousness—the reason we wear white—is because of the alien righteousness / the righteousness of Christ.
Bob: We can’t stand before God, spotless, apart from Him.
Barbara: —on our own.
Bob: That’s what Easter’s all about.
The thing is—we regularly forget the gospel. We regularly drift back into our default setting, which is self-righteousness / wanting to justify ourselves by our own works. I think having the resources you’ve created in our homes during the Easter season—and for that matter, all year long—just is a constant way of reminding us of what’s true. Because of our forgetfulness, we need things that tell us, every day, that our hope is in Christ—that it is finished.
One of the things I love that you’ve created recently is the art board that says
“Tetelestai / It is finished” in the form of a cross / and then—the candle wrappers that you’ve created as well. These are hard to describe on radio. I would encourage our listeners to go to FamilyLifeToday.com and see what you’ve been working on and think about how these might look in your home to help you and your family.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com if you want to see what Barbara has been working on. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, the same way that the resurrection of Christ is at the heart of the Christian faith, our belief in Christ and in His resurrection are at the heart of what makes a marriage and a family thrive. Unless your marriage and family is anchored in a strong biblical foundation, you’re going to find yourself experiencing all kinds of challenges and not knowing what to do with them. Here, at FamilyLife, our goal is to help every home become a godly home—to remind us that we need to rely on the power of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, day in and day out, in order to live the kind of lives that God has called us to live.
We appreciate those of you who share our burden for seeing every home become a more godly home. When you donate to support FamilyLife Today, you’re saying you want this message to go to more people tomorrow than it’s going to today; because every dollar invested—that’s what it’s going for—to expand the reach of this ministry so more people can grow deeper in their walk with Christ, in their marriage, and in their family. We appreciate those of you who are contributors to this ministry, both as monthly Legacy Partners and those of you who will, occasionally, make a contribution to support FamilyLife Today.
If you can make a donation today, we’d love to send you a set of “Resurrection Eggs,®” a tool you can use with your children or your grandchildren during the Easter season to help teach them the story of Jesus’ last week on earth. Ask for a set of “Resurrection Eggs” when you donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com or when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation.
Or you can request the “Resurrection Eggs” when you mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
Tomorrow, Barbara Rainey’s going to be back. We’re going to continue to talk about the celebration of Easter, both during the weeks leading up to the holiday, and the actual day itself. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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