He was a battle-worn soldier. He had given himself to the commander-in-chief without reservation. Nothing his leader asked of him was too much. He faced hardship for his passion to the mission.
He had been misunderstood more times than he could probably count. He had been arrested falsely. He had been ridiculed. He had been beaten. He had survived a near-fatal crash at sea and was about to face execution for his love for his leader and His message.
Along the way he had trained a younger man to assume some responsibilities in a place where he had established a work. He had high hopes for this young man, but he knew much too well the pressures the young man would face day after day.
So in the last correspondence he would have with his trainee, he sent him a reminder. In fourteen words he made his greatest plea and offered his best encouragement. And the words he shared with the young man are applicable to us these many years later. Especially are they meaningful for this day.
Paul wrote Timothy, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8)
Paul had given Timothy some strategies for carrying out his work; how to choose leaders for the church, what to do with the people who only wanted to quarrel over words and semantics; what to do when faced with temptation — all good advice for a young church leader. But in my mind the most important thing he could share with Timothy and with us are those fourteen words. This was the summation of his life. This was Paul’s credo: Remember Jesus Christ; Remember.
Memories are powerful elements in our lives. Sometimes unexpected and uninvited, painful memories crash through the doors of the mind like an army tank, demanding control over our minds, wills and emotions.
Memories of abuse. Memories of rejection. Memories of embarrassment. Memories of failure. Certainly not memories that would be considered gospel or good news.
At other times pleasant memories surprise us. They bring a smile to our face and joy to our soul. Memories of a romantic weekend. Memories of a home run. Memories of a beautiful sunset. Memories of kind words spoken to us by our parents.
Sometimes we don’t want to remember the bad, but we do. Sometimes we want to remember the good, but we don’t. And sometimes we just have a hard time remembering anything.
That reminds me of the story of three sisters: Wanda, Martha, and Wilma. These three elderly sisters lived together.
Wanda had gone upstairs to run some bath water. She stuck her foot in the water, then stopped and looked around and said to herself, “Was I getting in the bath or out of the bath. I can’t remember.” So she called to Martha: “Martha, would you come up to the bathroom. I can’t seem to remember if I was getting in the bath or out of the bath.”
Martha muttered to herself. “You senile woman. What do you mean you can’t remember whether you were getting in or out of the bath.” But she made her way to the stairs. She got about half-way up, stopped and looked around and said, “Was I going up the stairs or down the stairs? I can’t remember.” Then she called for Wilma who was in the kitchen. “Wilma, would you come in here? I can’t remember if I was going up the stairs or down the stairs.”
Wilma sarcastically said under her breath, “Martha, you senile woman. I can’t believe you can’t remember if you were going up or down the stairs. Thank goodness I’m not as forgetful as you. Knock on wood.” She stopped and looked around, then asked, “Was that someone knocking at our front door or the back door?”
As Paul wanted to stir Timothy’s memory, so he wants to prod ours. He doesn’t want us to suffer a memory loss when it comes to Jesus Christ. He wants us to remember a couple of truths about Jesus.
I. Remember His Life
Paul writes, “Remember Jesus Christ … descended from David.” Remember the humanity of Jesus; the one who was a descendant from David, the promised Savior. I think he means that we are to remember Jesus’ way of life.
His way was one of commitment to the purposes of God. Nothing could stop Him from obeying the words of God, not even death.
His way was one of compassion for people God had created. The Bible says that He went about doing good, healing the sick, caring for the children, loving and accepting the so-called throw-aways of society.
We are to remember His way of dealing with a woman caught in adultery and brought before Him by self-righteous religious people. He was gracious and forgiving to her and confronting to them.
We are also to remember His words of life. People who heard Jesus were captivated. His words were filled with the truth and the authority of God, so much so that some said of Him, “Never has a person spoken like him.” And to this day no one has come close to speaking words filled with power and life like He did.
His words challenge people to look deep within themselves and consider their standing with God. His words encourage people to accept the grace God offers to all. We are to remember words like “Come to me all who are weary and burdened down, and I will give you rest.” We are to remember words like “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
We are also to remember His death for our life. We are to never stop remembering that He voluntarily died for people like us. We are to remember that blood and spit were caked to His cheeks and that His lips were cracked and swollen from dehydration. We are to remember that thorns ripped His scalp, His lungs cried with pain, and his legs knotted with cramps while He was hanging alone and forsaken on the cross for the sins of the world.
Remember Jesus Christ, the descendant of David, the man.
II. Remember His Resurrection
The main thing we are to remember, this Easter and every day, is “Jesus Christ, raised from the dead.”
We are to remember that early on that first day of the week, God’s power — the power that created everything out of nothing — raised Jesus from the dead. We are to remember that the story of Jesus didn’t end on the cross or in the tomb. It is still being written today in and through the life of the church, which was born out of the resurrection.
We are to remember that the resurrection of Jesus was an event that happened within history. It really happened and the historical evidence for it is insurmountable. C. S. Lewis, Frank Morison and Josh McDowell set out to disprove the resurrection, only to find that the evidence for it was overwhelming — so much so that they renounced their atheism and agnosticism and became believers.
We are to remember it was a physical event. Jesus was raised with the same identity, but the resurrection gave Him a transformed body, not merely a resurrected spirit. The risen Jesus Christ is not just a surviving influence. He is not just a revived faith. He is not a resuscitated corpse. He was a dead man brought back to life by the power of and for the glory of God. There is two thousand years of on-going evidence for the reality of His resurrection: the existence of the church, the practice of Sunday worship, the act of baptism, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and millions upon millions of changed lives.
And we are to consciously and deliberately remember the impact of the resurrection. Because Christ is risen we are assured of God’s forgiveness. The resurrection of Jesus validates His claims to be the one sacrifice for the sins of the world. And this assurance of forgiveness enables us to face our past, however much reason we have to be ashamed of it. Because of the resurrection of Christ we are assured of God’s ultimate triumph over sin, death, and hell. And this assurance gives us hope to face life’s uncertainties and death’s finality. He has conquered them both.
There is a true story about a kindergarten teacher in a Christian school who was determining how much religious training her new students had. While talking with one little boy, to whom the story of Jesus was obviously brand new, she began relating the story of Jesus’ death on the cross. When she was asked what a cross was, the teacher picked up some sticks, fashioned them into a crude cross, and then explained how Jesus was actually nailed to a cross and then died. With downcast eyes, the little boy quietly acknowledged, “Oh, that’s too bad.” In her response, the teacher related how He rose again and came back to life. Then the little boy’s eyes got as big as saucers. He lit up and exclaimed, “Totally awesome.”1
When we remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead we are able to say “totally awesome.”
Today, remember and realize Jesus’ way, words, death, and resurrection are for you, so you can be forgiven and experience true hope. Today, remember and renew your commitment to be followers of the risen one. Today, remember and relay the message of life to those who know only a deathlike existence. Today, remember Jesus Christ by your actions.
1. Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Growing Deep: Exploring the Roots of Our faith (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1986), p. 149.

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