There were three sisters—ages 92, 94, and 96—who lived together. One night, the 96-year-old drew a bath. She put one foot in, and then paused. “Was I getting in the tub or out?” she yelled. The 94-year-old hollered back, “I don’t know, I’ll come and see.” She started up the stairs, but stopped on the first one. She shouted, “Was I going up or coming down?” The 92-year-old was sitting at the kitchen having tea, listening to her sisters with a smirk on her face. She shook her head and said, “I sure hope I never get that forgetful,” and knocked on wood for good measure. Then she yelled, “I’ll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who’s at the door!” Ha!
Isn’t it true, the older we get, the harder it becomes to remember things? Ugh!
When it comes to our spiritual lives, I believe there is great power in remembering. But, here’s our problem, we forget the things we need to remember and remember the things we should forget. Instead of reminding ourselves that God loves us and has a purpose and plan for our lives, we tend focus on our past, our mistakes and our current problems.
It’s no coincidence that the word “remember” is used roughly 166 times in the Bible. Why is that? Because the God who created us knows how easily we forget what’s most important. We forget who he is. We forget what he’s done in our lives. We forget the hundreds of promises he made to us. And for some of us, we have forgotten the power and importance of the resurrection. If this is true, Easter doesn’t feel very special.
Apostle Paul, who wrote a lot of the New Testament, was keenly aware of our propensity to forget God. One of the letters he wrote was to his young protegé, Timothy, who was pastoring a church in the ancient city of Ephesus. Word gets to Paul that Timothy is facing some major problems in the church. There was a group of people within the church saying Jesus was only a man and he didn’t actually rise from dead. Since Timothy was a sensitive and timid young man, he didn’t know how to handle the pressure. The church was declining, he was emotionally exhausted, and ready to give up. Some of you have been there!
Paul writes two letters to encourage Timothy and to remind him of God’s work in his life. He tells Timothy to remain strong in God’s grace and patiently endure suffering. Paul then uses the images of a soldier, an athlete and a farmer all to give Timothy a picture of the dedication and hard work needed to pastor a church. The Paul says, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel…” (2 Timothy 2:8).
The word “remember”, in the original language, is what’s called an imperative. It’s a command. The word is also in the present tense, which means “keep on remembering”. Apostle Paul is not just giving good advice to young Timothy. He’s commanding him above all, to constantly remember the resurrection and the good news of Jesus Christ!
If you’re a follower of Jesus, what’s keeping you from remembering? We live in a world of distraction that constantly tries to turn our attention away from God. We’re distracted by all the messages we hear from the media and entertainment world saying this is what life is really all about. Things like:
- Go find your true self!
- You can do and be anything!
- Buy this, eat that and travel there!
- Lose more weight by eating bread! (*wink* Oprah)
And if it’s not the media, then life has a way slowing distracting us from what’s most important. It’s easy to forget God because of the daily grind of life, work, and family.
When we remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, we remember that our pain, our sorrow, is real, but it won’t have the last word!
Paul encourages Timothy (and us!) to remember the gospel. Remembering the gospel, gives us strength for the present and hope for the future. Remembering what God has done in the past is vital for living by faith in the future. Think about all the times of struggle that you have gone through and ask yourself, what did God do? Was he faithful? Did he come through for you? And did you grow through that experience? Maybe you feel God has let you down. I wonder if that’s because your story isn’t over? God’s not done with you!
Ultimately, we remember Jesus Christ because we don’t just want his memory, we want his presence. And that’s the hope of Easter. We don’t just have a memory of Jesus, we have the power of his presence.
Easter is the celebration that Jesus is still alive! That means there is no obstacle or enemy too great for him to conquer. Some of you, are facing something that is far greater than you could ever possibly handle on your own. But, like Timothy, if you remember and look to the risen Savior and King, then you know, you’re never alone. In the face of suffering and pain we don’t want answers, we want a person. And because of the resurrection, whatever you are going through, Jesus is right there with you!
Happy Easter friends! He is Risen!