Jani: Hi, everyone! Welcome to our podcast. Thanks so much for listening in today.
Jani: Boy, do we have a treat for you! I I have a special guest. His name is Ray Ortlund and I happen to live with him. He is my husband! Welcome, Ray, we’re so glad you’re with us.
Ray: Thank you, darling. It’s great to be with you.
Jani: Well, one of the difficulties of this pandemic is that we’ve had to postpone all of our speaking and traveling. But one of the joys is we get to work at home together. And so I convinced Ray that a worthy use of his time would be to plan for a podcast and record with me. So I truly am grateful.
What to expect in this episode
Jani: With this being the week before Easter, we thought we’d do a special Easter episode. And this is how we want to map it out for you all. We’re going to start with Ray explaining to what the Bible teaches us about Easter. What is Easter all about, really?
Ray: And then, sweetheart, it would be so great for you to coach all of us on how we parents can celebrate Easter with our children. What are ways that we can help our children enter into the glorious realities of Easter? How we can make that meaningful to them and fully capitalize—even though we can’t go to church—we can still, in our families, fully capitalize on this Easter season.
What is Easter really about?
Jani: Wonderful. Well, Ray, let me ask you that question, then: “Explain to us, would you, please, what is Easter really about?
Ray: Yeah, Two words come to mind immediately:
1. Body: Our bodies will be raised
Ray: When we’re thinking about resurrection, the whole point of resurrection is bodily resurrection. We’re not talking about some shadowy “afterlife”. The notion of an afterlife is a pagan notion. Here’s what the Bible doesn’t say that right now we’re fully alive. And then after we die, we enter into some sort of vaguely defined, ethereal “after-life”. But the Bible says the opposite. Right now, this existence we’re stuck with is a “living death,” and we’re on our way to the life that is truly life, including the resurrection of our bodies.
Ray: So when we come to Easter and the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, his very body which had died stone dead, was raised to life. And not just sort of resuscitated. His very body was made immortal. It was made glorious and incapable of pain, injury and death ever again. There will never be another fall of the second Adam. There will never be another death after the resurrection of Christ and after we are all caught up into his resurrection. So the dignity of the human body is a big part of the message of Easter. The body of Jesus mattered, not just the teachings of Jesus, not just the heart of Jesus, the spirit of Jesus, the virtue of Jesus…that’s all glorious, but the very body of Jesus mattered too, and our bodies matter to God, the humblest part of us.
Ray: Indeed, when I look at Roman’s chapter eight, for example, it says,
“We wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”Romans 8:23
Ray: Now Epictetus, for example, a stoic philosopher around the time of the apostle Paul, said, really we’re made of two parts: we’re made of our minds and of our bodies. And our whole problem, he said, was we pander to our bodies and we neglect our minds. But our minds are what we have in common with the gods and our bodies, or what we have in common with the animals. So salvation consists in elevating our minds to “god-like” status and overcoming our bodies on triumphing over them and so forth. And that’s just not Christian at all. The gospel does not insult the human body. First Corinthians Chapter six says, God is for the body. The Lord has a “pro-body” policy.
Jani: Oh, my goodness, that’s encouraging.
Ray: He created our bodies and He is not having second thoughts about that. He’s not embarrassed. He’s not squeamish. He is not thinking, “I wish I hadn’t done that.” He is saying that the gospel—thanks to the death and resurrection of Christ—the gospel includes the redemption of our bodies as well. So everything this life takes away from us, God is going to give it back and better, forever, including our very bodies.
Ray: Yeah, And that’s what Easter’s about.
Jani: Oh, my goodness. That’s wonderful.
2. Place: Our places will be redeemed.
Jani: What about place?
Ray: This is a really striking thing. Russell Moore pointed this out to me one time and I’ve never forgotten it.
Jani: Remind our listeners who Russell Moore is.
Ray: Russell Moore is one of my heroes. He is the leader of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is one of the moral heroes of our generation. Russell pointed out once that in Acts 22, the Apostle Paul, when he met Christ on the Damascus Road, asked the Lord, “Who are you, Lord?” And in Acts 22:8 the Lord answers (the risen Jesus answers): “I am Jesus of Nazareth.” Fascinating. He doesn’t say, “I was Jesus of Nazareth.” He says, “I am Jesus of Nazareth.” He still identifies with his hometown.
Jani: Oh, my goodness, I’ve never thought of that.
Ray: He was born in Bethlehem, down the south, but he was raised in Nazareth up in the north, and they did not treat him respectfully; they did not appreciate who he was and so forth. But even now, our risen Lord above not only has a fully raised, immortal human body, he also identifies still with his hometown. Yes, He he is not only going to raise our bodies, He is going to renovate the entire Earth.
Ray: I grew up in Pasadena, CA for example, and I love Pasadena, it’s always my hometown. But when I go back anymore, I feel like an outsider. You know, I feel like an exile. It has passed me by utterly and completely. But I will always be Ray from Pasadena and Pasadena is gonna be made new. Nazareth is gonna be made new. Nashville is gonna be made new. All the people who are joining in our conversation right now listening in, wherever you are, your place matters to the risen Jesus. The resurrection of Christ will touch this world. It will touch your place.
Ray: Here’s a fascinating thing: the second edition of the Geneva Bible in 1562…
Jani: …that’s the first reference we’ve had on our podcast to that.
Ray: There was a misprint where Jesus says in Matthew 5, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” this misprint said, “Blessed are the placemakers.”
Jani: Oh, really?
Ray: Yeah, but it’s kind of a perfect misprint because Jesus really is our place maker. He created our places, He gives us our places, He sustains our places, He will redeem our places. Our places will sparkle forever in the new Heavens and the new Earth. So our risen Lord did not say, “You know those narrow-minded people down there in Nazareth, they didn’t like me, and you know what? I don’t like them.” Blah, blah, blah. He didn’t say that. He said, “I am Jesus of Nazareth.” Um, “I still wear my Nazareth High School letterman’s jacket. I still have that address. I cherish that place as my own. I’m not angry at that place. I’m not ashamed of that place. I am Jesus of Nazareth.” So we all want a place to belong.
Ray: We want a nation. We want a neighborhood. We want a coffee shop, a gym, a deer stand, a favorite restaurant.
Ray: Some of us want a deer stand.
Ray: And our very bodies are places. So our places matter to Jesus. We are not only part of his reign, we are also part of his realm, and any place can become his place and we start feeling less like exiles.
Ray: So Easter is about our bodies being raised immortal, the way our Lord’s body was, and it’s about our places being redeemed and made into heaven on Earth. And not just now and then—although we do experience it imperfectly now—but forever. It’s about the redemption of the entire created order.
Jani: Oh, that’s so encouraging. Oh, thank you. One tiny blessing of this pandemic is that we get to have you on this podcast. Thank you. That’s so helpful.
Does that apply to me?
Jani: You know, that helps me look at my body in a different way: not despise it and hate it and fight against it, but receive it as a gift from the Lord that he’s going to redeem. And it helps me not long after Franklin, Tennessee, so much, and it frees me to know that God’s going to redeem this, and though there will be a new Earth
Ray: Yes, He is Jesus of Franklin.
Ray: And we are Ray and Jani of Franklin. It all matters to him.
Jani: Thank you, honey.
What about Enjoying Easter in our Homes?
Ray: So, sweetheart. Okay, now, that’s kind of the message of Easter, the meaning of Easter, the theology of Easter, but the enjoyment of Easter, the teaching of Easter, the practice of Easter in our homes, especially as we can’t go to church the way we would like to because of this wretched virus. Help us think through—and you’re brilliant at this…
Jani: Oh, excuse me, listeners for my husband.
Ray: You are. You’re wrong, I’m right.
Jani: We can’t argue on this podcast, Ray!
Ray: How could parents, this Easter, help and guide their Children to enter into the glory of what Easter’s about?
Jani: That’s such a good question. And we’re all asking it, aren’t we? Because we feel stuck in our homes.
Jani: When I think about it, honey, there has not been one Easter Sunday that I have not been in church since I was two years old. That’s 68 years, and all of a sudden here I am and I can’t go to church this Sunday. Here we are on Easter Week and we can’t go to church. So it’s a really good question. I know the moms who are listening or wondering, “What can we do?”
Jani: Well, you chime in here with me, Ray, but first of all, I would encourage the mothers in particular—because moms, you know how I tell you. I think this is gonna be on your shoulders. You’re going to need to be the one to make things like this happen. First of all, make sure your own heart is right. Were you able to take in what you heard Ray teaching us about what Easter really means? Could you take some special times this week and read through the four accounts in the gospels of what Easter is all about (the events leading up to it and then the actual resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus)?
Jani: You want Easter to be special to your kids. You want them to look forward to it. If you were to ask a child what is his or her favorite holiday, I would imagine they would say Christmas because, you know, they get presents at Christmas—it’s fun! But I wonder if they realize there would be no Christmas without Easter. The reason we have Christmas is because the Lord was born and he came to Earth, he sacrificed himself for us. He died and was buried and was resurrected. He wasn’t like any other baby born. That’s why we celebrate his birth. Well we want this week to help our kids learn to appreciate Easter.
Jani: So first of all, I would encourage you throughout the week, have some Children’s books near where you could be reading to your kids about Easter. One of our favorites is called The First Easter by Carol Heyer. The story of why we celebrate Easter. I like this book because it gives us beautiful artwork and a true biblical account of why we celebrate Easter is important for children to use all their senses as they learn about a holiday. Their eyes, their ears, their touch, their hearts. We want to teach them about Easter, but it’s kind of hard as a mom because the reality of Easter is death and grief. At first, that’s where it starts, and then it comes to the resurrection. It’s hard to talk to our kids about death. I wonder if your child has ever had any experience of death, maybe a grandparent.
Ray: You know, I wonder if this terrible pandemic is forcing the issue upon us as parents. This is really a very meaningful time for us as parents to sit around the dinner table and talk about death with our children. What does it mean outside Christ? What does death mean inside Christ? What difference does he make as we come to die, which all of us will?
Jani: Yes, that’s so good, honey. And that’s what Easter is all about. It gives us the hope after death.
Ray: Good Friday is all about us being forgiven. Jesus said from his cross, “It is finished.” And Easter Sunday morning was God the father in heaven responding by saying, “Yes, it is finished. Watch this!”
Jani: I love that! Oh, that’s so good. Let’s capture that in our own hearts so our Children can see what that means to us.
Jani: What do you, dear listener, what do you believe about Easter? Can your kids see that in you? Is there the reality of the pain of death but the joy of life after death and how God has conquered it? Don’t juvenilize Easter to your kids. Be real with them about it. If you make Easter all about little chocolate, Easter bunnies and hunting for eggs, that’s what they’ll remember. No, I’m not saying we never dyed eggs or hunted for candy or anything. Everybody knows Jani loves candy—we always have candy at Jani’s house! There is a place for that, but let’s not make that the focal point. Make the Word of God the story of the real Easter the focal point.
Jani: So this week, after getting your own heart ready with the Lord and teaching your children about Easter, looking at it together in the Bible around the table together, this might be something fun you’d like to do on Saturday, the day before Easter.
Jani: There’s a favorite resurrection cookie recipe that we like to use, and it’s a fun way that you can help your children understand the different aspects of the Easter story. You’ll find this recipe on our website at herestoresmysoul.org. Let me just explain that part of the recipe is where you beat the nuts and put them in with egg whites and vinegar that children get to taste (vinegar) and you mix it all together beat it all together, put it on cookie sheets and put it into an oven and you seal the oven. You actually put masking tape over the outside of the oven all night long, all Saturday. And then on Sunday morning to get to wake up, come downstairs, unseal the oven, take the cookies out and they will have “risen” when the children bite into them, they’ll be a hole in the middle; they’re empty in the middle! And it’s kind of a fun, little, sweet way to remind your children of the Easter
Ray: Isn’t that great. To make it more vivid to them.
Ray: In categories that they identify with.
Jani: That’s right, Ray.
Jani: Well, Ray and I pray that you have a wonderful week. We trust that you will find a happy Easter service to listen to and watch together as a family, and that this very special Easter, where you’re only at home alone, will become a special memory in your family as you look back through the years. God bless you. And may He restore your souls in special ways this Easter Sunday.