Remembering Jesus

2 Timothy 2
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.

Paul was a guy who seemed to be able to maintain a proper focus in life. In our passage this morning he calls on Timothy to remember Christ as the one who is worth suffering for. You might think that one preacher would never have to remind another preacher to remember Christ, and yet that is what we see in our passage this morning. Paul says to Timothy, ”Remember Jesus Christ.”

Any of us can busily live our lives and effectively fail to remember Jesus Christ. We can go through life without power, without courage, living even in despair because we may be doing all the things we do under our own strength.

We, as Christians, know we ought to be strong, but we only feel weak. We know we should be hopeful, yet we feel despair. We know we should have joy, but we only feel sorrow. We have heard we should have endurance, but we only feel tired. Why is this? Could it be that we have forgotten Christ Jesus? Could it be that we have forgotten to regularly recall and rejoice in who He is in this world and in our lives? Is it perhaps that we have gotten so burdened down with the cares of this present world that we have failed to remember Him?

On the one hand, that may not seem possible to us. How can we as Christians forget about Christ Jesus? On the other hand we know by our own experiences that we can and do go through some seasons of life doing just that, failing to keep our focus on Him and His magnificent work in and around us.

Paul had faced such pain and suffering that for him life would be disastrous if he were to forget Jesus Christ. Think about where he was. He was in prison, he had been abandoned by many he had loved, food and other necessities would have been sparse, freedom was a distant memory. In his case, where would he be if he didn’t keep a proper perspective of Jesus Christ being in him and for him, giving purpose and meaning to his circumstances?

Paul knew well the importance of remembering Jesus, and as a good leader he wanted the younger man Timothy to remember also. He knew what it took to get him through life and what it would take for Timothy to get through life as well. What would it take? It would take a mind set on the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Now, we all know in our minds who Jesus is, right? If you are a Christian, you know that Jesus is the Son of God, that He came to earth and lived a perfect, sinless life and was sacrificed for our sins. We know that by faith we can trust in Him, receive Him as our Lord and Savior. We have learned about the story of redemption and how we are lost and without hope apart from Him. But are we daily living in the truths of what all this really means for us?

For instance, do we wake up in the morning with minds filled with thoughts from Romans 8:35-39? Do we face the day with Romans 8:35-39? Do we live in our relationships, good or bad, in light of Romans 8:35-39?

Romans 8
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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.

This is at least a part of what it means to remember Jesus! It is remembering who we are in Christ and of His relationship to us and ours to Him. This is remembering Him!

Paul knew his life was nearing its end, and he so wanted to pass on to Timothy this secret to the abundant life, and that is: remember Jesus Christ. Here is what he said:

2 Timothy 2
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,

He says two specific things regarding Jesus. First that He is risen from the dead and secondly that He was the offspring of David. The first, that He is risen from the dead, is a reminder of His power and of His eternal state. He defeated death, He had the power to overcome death.

1 Corinthians 15
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures

The point is that Jesus is alive. He is not a past historical figure but a living Lord and Savior. Everything that had been true of Him still is. We don’t just look back and say, “Wasn’t He great?” No, we look at Him presently and say He is great. He was first place and He remains first place. His nature is still in tact. The character of the man, Jesus, as we read of Him walking on this earth, remains His character today.
In John 14:9 Jesus said, “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” He rose from the dead and He lives today. As He lives today, He loves us, intercedes for us, works in us, carries us though all things. He is faithful. And having defeated death, He remains alive forever.

Paul also speaks of Jesus as a descendant of David. Being a descendant of David speaks of His humanness, of His humility. It reminds us that He was one of us. It reminds us that He is sympathetic with our weakness as one who was tempted.

Hebrews 4
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Don’t think that Jesus does not understand you and what you face. I see many people grieve almost to despair at times thinking no one understands them. They think, “If only someone would understand me, I could get relief.” But remember this: no one will fully understand, no one but Jesus. He understands. He alone understood all of Paul’s grief and struggles. Only Jesus would fully understand Timothy’s life issues. And it is the same for you and for me. When Jesus walked this earth in order to defeat death, He also faced what we face, and in His risen state He is able still to sympathize with our weaknesses and care for us in them as only He can do.

This is the gospel that Paul preached. He preached Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:23: “But we preach Christ”

Verse 9 only makes sense if we really understand verse 8. In verse 9 Paul mentions his own personal suffering in chains, but not to gain sympathy, but to express joy over something more important. What we see is Paul, in an incredible way, looking past his own dire circumstances to a higher eternal truth. This is some real spiritual maturity that we see here, and it must be a fantastic place to be. Here is what he says in verse 9:

2 Timothy 2
9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!

He is bound in chains as a criminal, but the word of God is not bound. He is controlled by others in jail, but God’s word cannot be controlled by others.

I can speak for myself and say, it is hard for me to look beyond my own circumstances at times and just rejoice in God’s perfect wisdom and sovereign rule. Isn’t it hard to look past our own troubles? Because of our feelings and emotions and desires for ease and comfort, we can really struggle with facing hard things for the glory of God. And what is this? It is a failure to remember Christ Jesus. If all of our life is focused on Him as Lord, then we can do as Paul did here and rejoice that His work is being accomplished as His word goes out. We can see that as a higher good and praise God for His omnipotent power.

And what is God’s word doing, what is the good work that is being accomplished through it?

2 Timothy 2
10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Paul is saying that his suffering in chains is a rather small thing because through it, through his circumstances a greater good is being accomplished. And what is that greater good? It is that the elect are being saved. Salvation is being applied to men and women. People are becoming children of God. People who will receive eternal life with God are being secured by Him.

God chose to have Paul suffer in prison as a means for many of the elect to be saved. Many of God’s chosen ones were saved through this plan.

Do we stop to realize that our suffering may be the way in which others may come to Christ? And are we good with that? Paul was an evangelist in all his circumstances, and he knew his work of telling others about Christ must continue in every season of life, in every circumstance and hardship until he died. By speaking of the elect, he clearly knew of God’s mysterious sovereign choice of election, but he also knew that it was his responsibility as a Christian to spread the message.

We see God’s sovereign hand in election all in the New Testament, in places like Ephesians 1.

Ephesians 1
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

While Christians are chosen before the foundation of the world, they must hear the word and receive Christ as Lord and Savior. And so Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

When you suffer or when life is just not going the way you had hoped, can you still remember Christ? Can you still represent Him well by faith? Can you still make Him known to those around you? Can we hang on to the hope we have in Christ and the bigger picture that exists? Can we rest assured that we don’t see everything He sees and His plan is still good and right?

Paul ends his thoughts with this:

2 Timothy 2
11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.

What we see here is sort of a creed that the early church may have often repeated as a reminder of who Christ is.

“If we have died with him, we will also live with him;”

Romans 6
7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

This dying is a dying to self, a receiving Christ in newness of life, this is what happens when we repent of our sins and by faith receive Christ as Lord and Savior. Our lives are not ours, they belong to Him. He is our master in this new life, we are His and now live with Him.

“if we endure, we will also reign with him;”

If we endure in belief, that gives evidence that we are truly His. And those who are truly His will reign with Him forever!

“if we deny him, he also will deny us;”

To ultimately deny Christ is to prove that one never really belonged to Christ.

Matthew 10
32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

“if we are faithless, he remains faithful—”

Christ’s faithfulness is never dependent on anyone else’s fathfulness. He is faithful, period. This means He will do all that He has said He will do. He will treat and save the elect, Christians, as He has promised He will do. He will treat the lost the way He has promised He will do. He is not like a man or woman who might say one thing and do something else. We don’t have to wonder if He will change his mind, His commands, His desires, or His word. All will come to pass as He has said. This is tremendous news for the Christian and should make the unbeliever tremble with great fear. He will do what He says He will do!

“for he cannot deny himself.”

He cannot betray His character, He will not.

Remembering Jesus in every circumstance of life can be hard for us, and yet it is freeing. He has defeated death in His power. He knows our needs and sympathizes with our pains and struggles. He calls us not only to salvation but also to the work of gospel ministry so that others will be saved. He is always at work, even if life seems hard. And He will remain faithful to us in this life and in the next. He is providing for us today as He always will.

Hebrews 12
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

This is our Lord who is with us!

2 Timothy 2
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.