Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie: At Easter we celebrate an event that happened 2,000 years ago, but we also look forward to the future. Here’s Barbara Rainey.

Barbara Rainey: Not only is Easter the story of how Christ purchased our freedom, how He accomplished our salvation on the cross, but is Easter is also foretelling what we will experience one day in heaven.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Wonder of His Name, for Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If you popped into the middle of this conversation with Barbara Rainey over the last couple of days, you may have wondered, Do they know what month it is? They are talking about Easter, and it’s only March.

We are doing that because we want to help you plan ahead and prepare to make a really big deal out of Passion Week, Good Friday, and Resurrection Day just about a month from now.

It’s a joy to welcome you again, Barbara Rainey, to Revive Our Hearts. Thank you for your work on this subject and for helping our listeners better understand the significance of the first Easter.

Barbara: It’s a delight to be here and to talk about my favorite subject. Thanks for having me.

Nancy: You made me more excited about it. I took time this morning to read through and do some meditation this these eight cards you’ve developed. It’s a set of cards that we are making available to our listeners this week.

That’s why we are sharing this ahead of Easter, so they have this ready. You can read one a day in the days leading up to Easter—starting with Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. Or you can pull these all out on Resurrection Day and read them at your family lunch.

There are other ideas that Barbara has developed. They are available at ReviveOurHearts.com. If you are there, you will find a link to her website, EverThineHome.com. You’ll see lots of ideas, resources, tools, ways that you can help yourself and your family celebrate, not just Easter, but other holidays as well.

I love making our homes a place that tell the gospel story. You’ve given us a lot of helpful ways to do that.

Barbara: Thanks. That’s my goal. Deuteronomy 6:6–9 talks about how we as adults need to be talking about our faith with our children or with other children. He says, “Talk about it when you walk along the way, when you lay down and when you rise up.”

And, importantly, it says at the end of those verses, “Put my words on your doorposts and on your gates.”

When I read that recently and understood that, that means I need to be able to have something that tells about my faith that’s on my front door or that’s on my gate or on a wall in the house.

I want things in my house that says, “Here in this structure lives a family who follows Jesus.” That’s what I think Deuteronomy 6 is all about. It’s transferring our faith first to our children and then to others as well.

Nancy: And starting with reminding ourselves of things we forget so easily. Then, once we are in awe of this, as we are worshiping the Lamb, as we are worshiping Christ—whether it’s Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, different times of the year—as we do that ourselves, then we can do that for our children, grandchildren, guests who come in our home, neighbors who stop by, people who deliver mail . . . whatever.

The UPS and FedEx guys know right where my home is because they are making deliveries there a lot. How wonderful for them to see that the people who live at this house, Robert and Nancy Wolgemuth who get all these packages, that this is what they believe. We are witnessing to our love for Christ.

So you’ve developed these different tools for different times of the year. But we are focusing in this short series on celebrating Easter, Passion Week, Good Friday—the sacrifice of Christ, the precious, spotless Lamb of God, for the sin of the world.

Then he didn’t stay dead. He rose again. You see that resurrection theme all through the New Testament. It’s so, so important to our faith. We want ourselves and others around us to get appropriately excited about what that means.

So this set of cards that we’ve been talking about this week helps us to do that. They are beautifully illustrated with some classical line drawings. Children need pictures; we need pictures. We need stories and pictures of these symbols. These cards help give us that.

Barbara: I agree. I love beautiful, visual things. I’ve always loved art. When I saw these drawings in an old book, first, I admired that someone can do this kind of art work. I just loved them and then got permission to print these amazing drawings on the front of these cards, so that when you read these around your table on Resurrection Day or when you read them personally for your devotions during holy week, you not only have a nice story to read, you’ve got something beautiful to look at.

This one that I’m holding shows Jesus standing before Pilate. His head is down, and Pilate is sitting down, and behind Jesus is all these arms reaching out. They are pointing Him, accusing Him. You don’t see faces; you see all these arms that look almost like swords pointing at Him.

So even just seeing the visual of what that must have been like is wonderful for our hearts and helps bring us to worship.

Nancy: It will help children remember the story that we don’t want them ever to forget. When those kids grow up and leave home and go to college and go to the secular marketplace, we want them to have inscribed indelibly on their hearts, in their memory’s eye, the picture, the story of who Jesus is and why He come, so they will never, ever doubt that this is real. This is true. This is so important. This is essential. This is not an add-on to our faith. This is the bedrock of our faith, and you are helping us to remember that.

So we’re making this set of cards available to our listeners this week who make a donation of any amount to support the work, the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. We’ll send these cards with the descriptions that we’ve been talking about yesterday and today. We’ll send that as our way of saying “thank you” for supporting this ministry and for helping us to call women to freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ.

We talked about the first four of those cards yesterday. Today, I’d love for you to walk us through the last four. They center around the miracles of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I’ve noticed in teaching on these miracles in the past that they are not as familiar to a lot of people. We don’t talk about them as much. They are just mentioned a little bit in the Scripture, but they are really significant. If you’d been there in that day, you would not have been able to escape these miracles.

So the first one of these Good Friday miracles has to do with what you call the torn tapestry—the veil that separated the holiest place from the rest of the temple surroundings. Tell us how important that was.

Barbara: I just imagine that scene because . . . We think of a veil like a bridal veil that you can see through. This was a veil that was a curtain. It was very, very thick. From what I’ve read, it could have been several inches thick. It was maybe thirty feet high. It was huge; it was enormous; it was really like a wall.

Nancy: So it’s not something that you can easily tear . . . and certainly not from top to bottom.

Barbara: It was like a fabric wall, essentially, hanging there. When you think about the temple, only one person was allowed to go behind that curtain, and only one time a year.

So here, on Passover Day, you’ve got priests all over the place. They are killing these sacrificial lambs. They are all busy about their work. Nobody’s passing any attention to anything other than, “We’ve got to get our work done. We have to be finished by sundown.” They are doing their work.

Nancy: You wonder if maybe this was somehow just rote to them.

Barbara: I’m sure it was rote to them. Things become rote to us. So it wouldn’t be unusual if it was just, “Get this over with so we can be done for the day” kind of thinking.

As we mentioned yesterday, these sacrifices of the lambs were taking place all day as Jesus hung on the cross. We talked yesterday about when Jesus breathed His last at 3:00 p.m., the soldiers stuck a spear in His side and out came blood and water. In the temple there was blood everywhere, and they cleaned that blood up by washing it with water, which mirrored what was happening with Jesus.

At that exact same moment, another miracle occurred. There were invisible hands that took a hold of that tapestry wall at the top and ripped it in half.

Nancy: Of course, we know those hands were none other than the hands of God—the only person powerful enough to do this.

Barbara: Exactly. I just started thinking that was like those priests. They had been so busy. They weren’t expecting to be interrupted. To see that tapestry being torn from top to bottom . . . just think about the sound of it.

If you have a piece of fabric, you might want to do this with your family. Fabric can be torn. Buy a cheap piece of muslin fabric and have it ready for your Easter feast. Snip the end of it and rip it. When fabric is ripped, it makes a really loud sound. That’s a really thin piece of fabric. Imagine the sound of this giant tapestry being torn from top to bottom. It probably was a thunderous sound.

Think about those priests. They had no idea what was behind this curtain. They had been told.

Nancy: They knew if they went behind it, they would die. Because that was where the glory of God was housed.

Barbara: I just imagine that all of them were slack-jawed. Their arms were at their sides. They were staring into that space just dumbfounded. Nobody ever thought that could happen. They didn’t know why it happened.

Then, probably after they started thinking about it, they were thinking, What should we do? Do we quickly sew this thing back together? I think they were probably panicked, afraid, shocked that they weren’t killed because they actually laid eyes on it. Yet what it symbolized, I don’t know that they saw.

It symbolized the broken body of Jesus that now for us opened the way into the Holy of Holies, into a relationship with God almighty!

Nancy: Sinners could go into the presence of a holy God forever.

Barbara: The symbolic ripping of that curtain signaled the end to the sacrifices and the old covenant and the old way of approaching God, and it opened the door and ushered in the new.

That phrase has always been one of my favorites in the New Testament, where it says that “the curtain was torn in two from top to bottom” (see Matt. 27:51). It’s just a few words.

But when I started studying what that meant and what that must have been like for the Jewish priests and those who saw it happen, it just added so much more meaning to what Christ accomplished for us.

He opened the door so that we could have a relationship with God the Father without fear of death. All the priests knew they would die, and they would have if they had walked in there. But now we don’t have to think about that; we don’t have to worry about that.

In fact, in Hebrews it says that we can boldly approach the throne of grace. That’s the concept that they couldn’t understand, that Jesus ushered in for us—free access to God the Father Almighty.

Nancy: That is something that we don’t ever want to take for granted, though we tend to. This is something we want our children and their children to experience the wonder of. This why, not just at Easter but particularly at Easter, it’s a great time to rehearse the story; to rehearse what it might have been like for those who experienced that day.

There was not only that amazing miracle of the curtain being torn in two, there were two other accompanying miracles about the same time. One was a great earthquake that took place. People might have thought this was just coincidence, but it was no coincidence.

Barbara: No, it wasn’t. It was a signal from God that this was an important event. It was almost like God was taking the earth and shaking it and saying, “Pay attention! Something’s happening! Something momentous is happening. I’ve got to get your attention because if I don’t, you are not going to notice.”

So the earth shook, and people were terrified as people always are in an earthquake. Have you ever been in an earthquake, Nancy?

Nancy: Just a tremor, actually, on our honeymoon.

Barbara: Seriously?

Nancy: Seriously.

Barbara: I didn’t know that little story.

Nancy: There were no buildings that fell.

Barbara: Dennis and I were in one, one time, and it was not much more than a tremor, but it was enough to wake us up. The chandelier in the place where we were staying (it was not our home) was swinging to and fro. Our kids were little, and they were laying on the floor sleeping. We were thinking, Should we wake them up? Should we move them? Is the chandelier going to fall? It was jarring, and it got our attention.

So I know that’s what happened that day when God shook the earth. All the people who were watching either Jesus on the cross, or the people who were in the temple with the sacrifices, or people who were oblivious, everyone was put on notice that something significant was happening.

Nancy: Then, that earthquake resulted in tombs being opened where people who were buried for who knows how long . . . and that was another miracle associated with Good Friday that you feature on one of these eight Easter cards.

Barbara: I think it’s a very significant event, too. It prefaces for us that one day we too will rise from the dead. When these tombs were opened, it signaled to those who had eyes to see that this is what Jesus came to do for us.

We all know that death is so final, as did the disciples, as did everyone who was around that day.

So the earth is shaking, and then all of a sudden, in their despair and in their discouragement, they discovered that there were some tombs that were opening. The earthquake obviously jolted them so the lids came off, but it was intentional.

People who were believers in Jesus Christ, the ones who believed that Jesus was the Son of God, they were the ones who came alive. It was a signal to those who had eyes to see, those who understood, that Jesus inaugurated a resurrection.

There had been disciples who had seen Him raise two people from the dead. He raised Lazarus, and He raised the daughter. But it would be easy to be skeptical and say, “That must have been a fluke. They weren’t really dead.”

But people who were in a tomb? Sealed with a lid on it? If you’ve seen the tombs in Jerusalem, they are boxes with lids on them

Nancy: So now the loved one that you buried is walking around the city of Jerusalem!

Barbara: Exactly! How can you explain that away?

For those who were watching, God was sending a message loud and clear that Jesus had defeated death and that resurrection was possible and that it was real; that God was going to resurrect many, many more.

Nancy: Not only was Jesus going to be raised from the dead on that first day of the week, but we too who are in Christ will one day be raised from the dead.

This is our hope—not just that He died, not just the He was raised, but that He will raise us with Him, too.

Barbara: It says in the New Testament, Paul talks about how Jesus was the first fruit from the dead. So Jesus was the first. He inaugurated us by His life and by His death. It’s the first of many harvests for God.

That was the first harvest. It was a small one that year. But there will be another harvest, a great and grand harvest, when God raises all of those believers from centuries gone by who have believed in Christ. Even those who have died recently, and hopefully for us, we will meet Him face to face in the air.

There is a great harvest coming. This was just an introduction to what God will do some day when He raises all of those who have put their faith in Christ, to live with Him forever more.

Nancy: These may be things you haven’t thought about in a while. These are things your children may never have thought about. So were are telling the story—not just once, but year after year.

These Easter cards give you a way of doing that. It doesn’t tell all the details of the story but some of the really important and special details that we need to be reminded of. Just having this conversation today is meaningful to me. It invigorates my own faith and my own assurance about what Christ has done for us, my own worship and awe.

You want that for your own heart, but you also want it for your family and your friends. That’s why we want you to have this set of Easter cards that Barbara Rainey has developed to help you tell that story.

You saved the best card for last. The ultimate miracle of Passion Week and Resurrection Sunday is . . . the resurrection itself.

Barbara: It is. It’s the pinnacle. It’s the final moment of all that God’s been doing. He’s been writing this grand and glorious story since the Garden. He has been working the redemption tale since Adam and Eve for us.

The pinnacle of that story, the climax of that story, the ultimate high point of that story is the resurrection. The disciples all thought that it was over. They were standing there watching thinking, This is not what we had in mind. This is not what we believed. We believed He was going to deliver us now on earth. We believed He was going to take care of us, and now He’s gone and gotten Himself killed . . . and killed as a criminal.

We know the story. They ran; they hid; they disowned Him. He died alone. Yet now God is saying, “Yes, He died alone, but that was by My design. That was by My plan.” All of these miracles, all of these tiny little details were a part of the grand script, the story that God was writing.

Now, on Resurrection Sunday, He says, “This is it. This is the final picture that I want you to see.”

Nancy: That resurrection was tied in, as were all these other details to symbols, festivals, and feasts that the believing Jews were already familiar with. They celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the day when Christ went to the cross.

They celebrated the Feast of First Fruits. Talk about how it ties together.

Barbara: For the Jewish people, the Passover was a combination of three feasts. One way I like to think of it is, at Christmas, we celebrate Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year. We sort of celebrate them all as a unit.

For the Jewish people, those three feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, were all celebrated together sort of as a unit.

The third feast was First Fruits. That was when Jesus rose from the dead. God was saying when He raised Jesus from the tomb and Jesus came out alive, “This is the first fruit of the harvest that is coming. Jesus is inaugurating a harvest of souls for the Father by His resurrection.”

He is showing us that He is going to bring many with Him into the kingdom. Jesus was the first one to do that and thereby, opening the door for us to follow.

Nancy: And in that sense, what we celebrate this coming Easter and every Resurrection Sunday is just a foretaste of something that lies ahead.

Barbara: That to me is part of what makes Easter such an amazing holiday to celebrate. We know it is about the cross. We know that it is about His death. We know that it is about His resurrection.

But I think we’ve totally lost sight of the fact that it is a picture of what will be some day.

Easter is all about the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. It is all about some day when we will be reunited with Jesus in heaven with the Father, and we have a feast like none other. We will be united with Him forever.

Not only is Easter the story of how Christ purchased our freedom in Him, how He accomplished our salvation on the cross. But Easter is also a foretelling of what we will experience one day in heaven.

He didn’t just save us to live on this earth. He saved us for Himself. It talks in the New Testament about how He has purchased a people for His own possession. When we believe in Christ, we become a part of that people. We become a part of His family. One day we will all be united.

Jesus by His resurrection showed us what our future looks like. One day we too will be raised. One day we too will ascend into heaven like Him. We will follow Him. We will all celebrate our oneness, our unity together with a feast, much like the feast of the Passover. We will celebrate that together in heaven and be forever with Christ in the heavenlies.

Nancy: My heart is saying, “Hallelujah, what a Savior!”

That’s what we celebrate this coming Easter. That’s what we celebrate every day of our Christian faith. But my prayer, and I know your hope as well, Barbara, is that this coming Passion Week, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday that each of our listeners will celebrate this holy season, this holy day, with new joy and fervor saying, “Hallelujah, what a Savior!”

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth talking with Barbara Rainey about the hope we celebrate at Easter, not just hope for our salvation now, but our hope forever.

I hope you’ll take up Nancy and Barbara’s challenge to really celebrate this Easter season in a meaningful way.

One way that we’d like to help you is by sending a set of eight cards Barbara helped make. On one side of each card, you’ll read portions of the Easter story. You can read these to your family or friends while celebrating the resurrection. On the flip side you’ll see classic illustrations from a vintage Easter book Barbara and the team found.

We’d like to send you this tool to help you share the Easter story as our way to say “thank you” when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Your gift will help us to continue spreading the good news of the hope that we have in Jesus.

Make your donation online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or donate by phone at 1–800–569–5959.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth loves to tell the story of Jesus. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.