“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound” (2 Timothy 2:8-9).
One day, I was probably eight or nine years old at the time, my mother sealed up an envelope, put a stamp on it, laid it on the corner of the kitchen table, and then turned to me and said, “Remember to take this to the post office later.” She was going out and would be gone the rest of the day and evening. I offered the obligatory “I will” and went on my merry way. I suppose my older sister was watching the young children still and home, and made supper for us to eat around 6 or 6:30. It was then that I saw the letter on the corner of the table. What would I do? I couldn’t admit that I had forgotten, so I took the letter and stuffed it in the couch (eight year old brains are not logical!) thinking no one would find it. Well, as you can imagine, my mother found the letter about a week later, I had to confess my sin, and suffer the consequences.
How many times a day do we ask someone to “remember.” It seems that the older I get, the more I am in need of help. Sometimes there is an urgency to the request, perhaps an important meeting and no way to write it down at the moment.
What’s really curious is that Paul tells Timothy to “remember Jesus Christ…” What? Is there any possibility that Timothy is simply going to forget all about Jesus? Of course not. Paul has something else in mind here. Remember (I hope you caught the irony) that we need to look at verses in the Bible in their context.
Paul had called Timothy to endure suffering, just as he was suffering, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Paul is writing these words as he sits in jail awaiting his execution. He knows full well that Timothy understands the cost of being a soldier – you may die in battle! So Paul is giving Timothy a “pep talk” if you will, reminding him that death for the Christian is not the last word.
Who is this Jesus Christ that he is to remember? First, he is the one “risen from the dead.” Timothy can call to remembrance the certainty of Christ’s resurrection, knowing that “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:20-22). Death has been swallowed up in victory!
Timothy also had the certain testimony of the apostles as they recounted their visit with Mary and Martha after Lazarus’ death. The words of Jesus to Martha rang out with renewed vigor after the resurrection of Jesus. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
And this Jesus is “the offspring of David…” This was to remind Timothy that God swore to David that he would raise up David’s seed. As Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, he said, “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption (he had previously quoted Psalm 16:8-11). This Jesus God raised up…”
When God swears something, it will happen! God’s word was his surety – it would surely happen. Paul would recount these words and the words of Psalm 2 to remind Timothy that Christ’s resurrection was the “sure blessings of David” (Acts. 13:34). Because Timothy was in Christ, those “sure blessings” applied to him as well – and to us!
We can think that we only celebrate the resurrection of Jesus one day a year, but as a follower of Christ, the certainty of the resurrection means that every day is Resurrection Day, and every day we must ponder the great blessings that are ours because Christ was raised from the dead. It is this sure promise that allows Paul to say, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
So bask in the bright sunshine of a resurrected Savior, and stand fast in that most certain word.