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An Easter to Remember

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“An Easter to Remember” [on screen]

(various passages)

Easter Sunday

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

April 4, 2021

Introductory Comments:

We all have those events in our history that we always remember: perhaps you remember where you were when President Kennedy was shot, when your first child was born, when the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded, when the Twin Towers were attacked, when you got the news that you were hired for your first job, or when your spouse said, “I do.” I remember right where I was sitting when I got the call that the pastoral search team thought I was the guy to be your pastor. 

Some events are ones that we naturally remember because of the significance of the event. Others, we remember because they are markers of what God is doing in our lives.

Churches have memorable moments too, do they not? Many of you could tell me stories of when buildings were built, pastors were hired, pastors left, and other significant events happened. 

We remember certain things. 

Well, this morning we are going to talk about an Easter to remember. Actually, we’re going to talk about three Easters to remember. 

Before we do, let’s pray together.


The act of remembering in the Bible is quite common. As God led His people into the Promised Land, He instructed Joshua to set up stones for the people to remember all that God had done. We see this in Joshua 4:1-7:

1 After the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua: 2 “Choose twelve men from the people, one man for each tribe, 3 and command them: Take twelve stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night.”

4 So Joshua summoned the twelve men he had selected from the Israelites, one man for each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go across to the ark of the Lord your God in the middle of the Jordan. Each of you lift a stone onto his shoulder, one for each of the Israelite tribes, 6 so that this will be a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 you should tell them, ‘The water of the Jordan was cut off in front of the ark of the Lord’s covenant. When it crossed the Jordan, the Jordan’s water was cut off.’ Therefore these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.” [on screen]

So, church, let us remember. Let us remember these three Easters. 

First, . . .

I. 2020: An Easter to Remember[on screen]

2020 was a crazy year, wasn’t it? After all, it’s not very often that you have a global pandemic! Add in a very hostile political climate, troubled race relations in America, and a country divided on many issues, and many of us would like to forget 2020. 

However, I want you to remember this word from 2020: “Faithfulness” [on screen] God showed how faithful He was over this last year. 

This time a year ago, we were trying to figure out what we would do as a church. Many churches thought that they wouldn’t be able to survive financially. Many churches thought they’d have to lay-off staff. Many churches thought it may be years before they could meet back. We had no idea what would happen and what to do!

Indeed, the leaders of our church didn’t know exactly what to do either. I reflected back on my seminary days and realized that I didn’t have a class on how to lead through a global pandemic. As your three pastors put our heads together, this is what we came up with: [show images from video recordings]

There were a lot of things that we could have done better, but by God’s grace and wisdom I believe there is one thing that we did correctly: we remembered that no matter what, God is faithful. 

Church, we must remember God’s faithfulness during this pandemic and always.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “22 Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!” [on screen]

God has always been faithful, and He is still faithful. Nothing that we go through takes away God’s faithfulness. 

Psalm 119:90 says, “Your faithfulness is for all generations; you established the earth, and it stands firm” [on screen] God is faithful for all generations and for all time!

Some of us have gone through some trying times this past year. We’ve had stressful days, full of confusion and uncertainty. Some of us have lost loved ones. All of us have been unable to visit loved ones like we once did. As a church, we were not able to have our Sunday school classes, Wednesday fellowship meals and Bible studies, and more for quite some time. Yet, Jesus was always there with us. 

We were reminded this year, as the apostle Paul learned concerning what God taught him, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9)[on screen]

God was with us through this year. He was faithful to us. As you remember Easter 2020, don’t just remember the fact that you couldn’t eat ham with your family, don’t just remember that we had to have church on a screen; remember the faithfulness of God. 

2020 is an Easter to remember. 

Another Easter to remember is . . .

II. 2021: An Easter to Remember[on screen]

By the way, in case you didn’t catch on, that’s today. Today is a day worth remembering. 

As you think about all that we went through up to this point, remember this, God’s “Blessings.” [on screen]

Church, God has blessed us in so many ways this past year. He was not only faithful, He was abundantly gracious in His blessings. 

While we were out of our sanctuary for many weeks, we were able to do this beautiful renovation to our sanctuary. 

When we first met back on Father’s Day we met back with about 65 people. The Lord grew our attendance to about 145 before we had a COVID-19 outbreak of 30 in 10 days at our church. By Gods’ grace, all of those people recovered and we only missed one Sunday of gathered worship from that outbreak. We came back with only 30 people, but because of God’s blessings we now have consistently over 100 people every week and well over 100 today. 

Even though we weren’t sure if we would be able to pay all of our bills, we actually ended 2020 and began 2021 with more money in our savings accounts than any year since I’ve been your pastor. God has blessed us!

We were able to take on many new visitors and some new members during this time. 

Through our food pantry ministry, we were able to provide meals for hundreds and hundreds of people in our community on a regular basis. 

We were able to have a virtual VBS, reaching many children, some of whom had never participated in our VBS before. 

We had a drive-through Trunk-or-Treat with around 1,000 individuals coming through, nearly all of whom said thank you for doing something for their children during these difficult times. God blessed us and He blessed others through us. 

We were able to ordain a pastor to ministry here at our church. 

We were able to visit the streets of our community and pray for over 1,000 homes, during a global pandemic! 

Even as our attendance was way down, the unity and commitment of our church was way up! God gave us a sweet spirit of cooperation and love for one another that has been unprecedented in recent years. God has blessed us!

Even now, as we reflect upon where we are as a state and as a nation. As of tomorrow, every adult in Florida will have an opportunity to get a COVID-19 vaccine, COVID-19 numbers are way down, and it looks like we may be able to get back to living our lives at some point soon. 

If I asked you to share right now, you could share many other blessings as well. All of these blessings are from God. 

James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” [on screen]

Ephesians 1:3 (a passage that we studied recently) tells us, “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ.” [on screen]

Things have been tough at times, but God has been good.

God has blessed us in so many ways: physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually, and more. 

2021 is an Easter worth remembering. 

Finally, . . .

III. Luke24: An Easter to Remember[on screen]

The original Easter, the original Resurrection Day, is a day for us all to remember. It is worth remembering forever!

Let’s read about that first Easter. Look at your Bibles in Luke 24:1-12: [on screen] 

1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. 5 So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground.

“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. 6 “He is not here, but he has risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” 8 And they remembered his words.

9 Returning from the tomb, they reported all these things to the Eleven and to all the rest. 10 Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them were telling the apostles these things. 11 But these words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. When he stooped to look in, he saw only the linen cloths. So he went away, amazed at what had happened.

In the original Easter, we see God’s faithfulness and blessings in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus gave His life so that we might experience forgiveness. The Bible says that the payment for sin is death. Well, Jesus paid that payment, even though He never once sinned. Not only did Jesus pay the death penalty, but He conquered death by rising from the dead. The Bible says that as Jesus experienced new life, we also can experience new life. 

Aren’t you thankful that Jesus was faithful? 

Aren’t you thankful for the blessings of God?

Even though humanity rejected God, God faithfully kept all of His promises to bring blessings and redemption to the world. 

John 3:16 famously reminds us, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” [on screen]

All we need to do to experience the faithfulness and blessings of God is to turn to Jesus. The work that Jesus did on that first Good Friday and that first Resurrection Sunday secured access to all the blessings of God for us. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [on screen]

Listen, church; listen, Christian: once we have been changed by the work of Jesus, nothing can take away God’s blessings! No matter the outcome of this pandemic, no matter our political situation, no matter the prosperity or lack thereof for a country, no matter how much money is in your bank account, no matter how many people show up to church, nothing can take away the blessings of God found in Jesus Christ and given to us by God’s Holy Spirit. 

Paul reminds of this reality in Romans 8:38-39. He says, “38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [on screen]

The Easter that we read about in Luke 24 is an Easter to remember! The original Easter changed everything about our lives. Indeed, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead changed the history of humanity forever. 

Concluding Thoughts:

As you walk away from this service to enjoy some ham, and search for candy inside spheres that are meant to hold baby chickens, remember this bottom line; remember this at Easter:

Bottom Line: The death and resurrection of Jesus reminds us of God’sfaithfulness and blessings[on screen]


God is faithful. God has blessings for us. Don’t let anything distract you from that truth. Don’t let anyone deceive you regarding that truth. 

We can look back on Easter 2020 with gratitude and joy, we can celebrate Easter 2021 with hope and peace, and we can reflect upon the Easter in Luke 24 with changed hearts and lives. 

Challenge yourself this week to be changed by this message in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

1. Examine your hope. [on screen]

What brings you hope?

Can your hope and joy be taken from you because of life’s circumstances? Will a pandemic take away your hope and joy? Will the results of an election take away your hope and joy? Will tragedy in your life take away your hope and joy? Will financial challenges take away your hope and joy?

We need to be changed because of the resurrection of Jesus, amen?

Check out these two quick pieces of research that I came across recently:

Two-thirds of American adults (66%) say they believe that the biblical accounts of the physical resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate, according to the 2020 State of Theology study from Lifeway Research. [show picture on screen]

A lot of people believe in the resurrection; praise God for that! However, does it result in changed lives? Does it result in supernatural hope?

Further research shows that we can’t even get these folks to commit to a church. Americans’ membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999. [on screen]

Folks, the resurrection should change our lives dramatically! The resurrection should give us a supernatural hope that radically alters our lives!

God is still faithful! God still gives blessings! God is still God!

Challenge yourself to examine your hope this week. Challenge yourself to live differently. 

2. Proclaim the blessings and faithfulness of God. [on screen]

So many in our town, our county, our state, our country, and our world are still lost in hopelessness and confusion. 

They have not experienced the blessings and faithfulness of God, found in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. 

They are still living like the dead among the dead. Let us live the way the angels spoke of Jesus after His resurrection. Let us live as the living among the dead!

Many people are still living in death. Will you take them that hope and joy? Will you proclaim the blessings and faithfulness of God? Will you show them how to experience life?


Let Easter remind you of all that God has done for you in the work of Jesus!

Every Easter is an Easter to remember, as we remember God’s love for us. Indeed, every day is a day to reflect upon God’s great love for us, found in Jesus. 

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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