by Rev. Randy Brown
You know that the last couple of weeks we’ve begun by a little bit of audience participation. When we have said, “Christ is risen,” Christ is risen, indeed, and you’ve kind of been forced into that. I’m not going to force you today, but I would invite you that as the Spirit would move you and maybe touch your heart, if you want to say, “Amen,” or “Praise the Lord,” or “Ouch,” just respond as God would have you to do.
I was with Dr. Chapel one time and he was inviting folks and giving folks permission to participate and he said, “Just say ‘Amen,’ or ‘Praise the Lord.’” He said, “Even if it kills ya.” Then he said, “I’ll come hold your funeral for free and tell ‘em how you died.” Just enjoy and participate in our worship this morning.
A few weeks ago I got word that one of my seminary professors, Dr. Fred Craddock, he was a preaching professor, had passed away. Dr. Craddock has touched more lives of preachers that went through Candler at Emory University than anybody else I know. I remember hearing Dr. Craddock tell a story. He told a story about his Uncle Ned. Now, Uncle Ned was the kind of uncle that when you were at a family reunion, and it came time for the blessing, you wanted anybody but Uncle Ned to pray.
There were two reasons for that. The first reason was he prayed so long that the food got cold. Especially the young folk didn’t like it when Uncle Ned prayed. The other reason was that when Uncle Ned prayed he never finished the prayer before the tears would begin to stream down his face, for he would pray and he would thank God for all that Jesus did for him and it just touched him in a way that the tears began to flow before the prayer was over. Every time Dr. Craddock told that story he would end by saying this, “We made fun of Uncle Ned and his tears but I guess Uncle Ned never got over what they did to Jesus the way the rest of us have.” That was a holy hush. That was one of those “ouch” moments.
Well, I want to talk about Jesus this morning, not about Uncle Ned. I want to talk about what Jesus tells us and what Paul tells us in his letter to Timothy, the second letter, where he says in verse 8, “Remember Jesus.” Remember Jesus. Now, Paul has written over half of the New Testament and as he’s done that, as he writes to Timothy he reminds him of who he is. He reminds him of all the instruction that he’s given him, and he builds him up, he supports him. He’s his cheerleader. He’s his encourager. He tells him about his heritage. He tells him to fan into flame the gifts of God that he has been given. He tells him that he is to live with a Spirit of God in his life. He reminded Timothy of a holy calling that was his. He reminded Timothy that Christ has destroyed death. He reminds him of all that he’s done and then he says, “Timothy, remember Jesus.” Remember Jesus.
If there’s a verse that you and I need to live by this coming week, it’s this verse, “Remember Jesus.” It’s those two words, “Remember Jesus.” Now, there are a few times when remembrance comes into play with Jesus. Jesus tells us that in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup we are to remember Him. There’s another time in Luke’s gospel that when Jesus is hanging on the cross, one thief on either side of Him, one of them says simply, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And, we know the beautiful answer to that prayer, “That today you would be with me in paradise.”
Now, Matthew tells us another time of remembrance. He says Jesus told Peter before the cock crows three times you will deny me. Peter said, “No, Lord, I’ll never do that.” We know the story. We know he did. When the rooster crowed Jesus looked at Peter and the Bible says and Peter remembered. You know, sometimes to remember something is a painful thing. As he remembered and as painful as that was it was redemptive. Remembrance can be redemptive just as it can be a source of pain.
I would suggest to you that that’s part of life. It’s painful when we don’t remember Him. It’s redemptive when we do remember Him. Remember Jesus Christ. Why would Paul tell Timothy to remember Him? He not only told him, he urged him, he pleaded with him. Remember Jesus. Why? Well, the scripture gives us a variety of reasons, because there is no other name by which one can be saved, that it is a name that is above every name, and that at the name of His name every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess. What he’s really saying there is, “When He’s all we’ve got, He’s all we need.” Remember Jesus. Remember Jesus because we like sheep have gone astray. Remember Jesus because he is the Good Shepherd. Remember Jesus because we have become like lost sheep, waiting to be found, and He is our shepherd who comes to find us wherever we are. If we are in the midst of the green pasture, or we’re on the edge of the cliff, He is the Good Shepherd that comes to rescue us. Remember Jesus.
When you and I are called upon to make difficult sacrifices we need to remember Jesus, because He is the one who bore our iniquity, and our shame and our pain. Remember Jesus. When difficult decisions come our way and we’re looking at life and we’re looking for a road sign to give us directions and it seems like all the road signs have fallen down, remember Jesus, for He is the way, the truth and the life. Remember Jesus when our souls are thirsty and our lives are hungry and we’re crying out for something to satisfy us. He says, “I am the bread of life.” He says, “I will give you living water.” Remember Jesus.
Sometimes when we feel like we are in the wilderness we need to remember Jesus, because when Jesus was in the wilderness He didn’t rely on human genius. He relied upon every Word that is written. The scripture says. The scripture says. We don’t have to worry about self doubt, self worth or abilities. Because of Him we can make a difference. A lot of times we come and we feel like we’re not worthy. We feel like we don’t have anything to offer. We feel like that we’re just kind of existing. Remember Jesus for he says, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” If that doesn’t give you some confidence, folks, we got bigger problems than that. Be who He says you are, light and salt. What other endorsement do you need for you can make a difference?
Sometimes we want to give up. We want to throw in the towel. You may have been there this week. You may be there this coming week. But, if you ever have that feeling to give up and quit and throw in the towel remember Jesus who says, “Keep asking, and seeking and knocking.” Remember Jesus. Sometimes when we want things to be the way they used to be. Remember Jesus for He’s the one that says “Behold, I make all things new.”
I had a gentleman in a previous church. His name was Pete Trousdell. Pete would tell about the time he grew up, in the horse and buggy day, and he’d say, “Preacher, them wadn’t the good ol’ days. Them wadn’t the good ol’ days. The only thing good about ‘em,” he’d say, “was they’re in the past and we lived through it. Them wadn’t the good ol’ days, Preacher.” He makes all things new.
Now, I know sometimes we get nostalgic, and we look for the way things used to be. I’m glad some things have changed. I’m glad there’s no longer polio. I’m glad there’s no longer leprosy. I’m glad there’s no longer horse and buggy. Amen.
So, the next time we want to hold onto the past remember Jesus who said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Remember Jesus the next time we want to get revenge, because it was Jesus who says, “Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.” Remember Jesus. Remember Jesus when we have a tendency to stockpile things in our life. Remember Jesus, for he says, “Lay up not for yourselves treasures on Earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven. Remember Jesus.
Remember Jesus when the storms of life come your way, and they will come, because He is the one who can calm the seas. More than that, he’ll calm the heart. Remember Jesus, the one who says, “Peace. Peace, be still.” Remember Jesus when you feel like an outcast. He came to the leper and He knew their pain and He touched them. He’ll touch us wherever we are at the source of our pain. Remember Jesus. Remember Jesus when we have a tendency to judge others, that they may not measure up to our standards. Remember Jesus for he says, “Judge not, lest you be judged.”
Remember Jesus when you have a tendency to say, “Well, the little things don’t matter,” or when you have a tendency to say, “Well, if I don’t do that, nobody’ll notice.” Remember Jesus because he bragged on the one who gave just a cup of water, to show that the little things are important. Remember Jesus for the little things are important. Just ask that little boy who had a soggy sardine sandwich, and he fed 5000 people with it. Remember Jesus.
Remember Jesus says, the one who is set at the temple treasury and all the people would go by and put in all their gifts and you’d hear the clanging, but what caught His attention was the poor woman who only put in two cents worth. Remember Jesus. Remember Jesus when we think other people don’t measure up and how could God use them? Remember Jesus, because God can take and use anyone. He doesn’t have to have our approval. Look at the Good Samaritan, for He says, “If you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to me.”
Our world tells us ... This is the one that really gets me. Our world can tell us that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something. My goodness. What if you run out of gas and somebody says, “Well, just go put something in the tank,” and you put sugar water, ain’t going to work is it? Not even around the block. It is important what you believe. Remember Jesus for He’s the one that says, “Build on the sure foundation.” The wise man built his house on the rock. Remember Jesus.
Remember Jesus when you are tempted not to care about others for Jesus says, “If you’re gonna be great, then serve.” Greatness comes by serving. When things don’t go your way and what you get’s not what you like, remember Jesus. Remember it’s God’s timing. Remember that Lazarus was dead for four days, and Mary and Martha let Him have it and said, “Jesus, if you had been here this wouldn’t of happened.” He said, “Oh, no.” Jesus, humanly speaking, was four days late. But the scripture says He was right on time. He didn’t miss the resurrection. He was the resurrection.
Remember Jesus, that he can restore you. That’s what He did for Peter after Peter denied Him. That’s not the end of the story. The end of the story is in the end of John when He was examining Peter for His ordination. Three times He had denied Him, but three times Jesus says, “Peter, do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?” And, Jesus restored him, and he’ll restore us. No matter what we’ve done, what we’ve been. He’s in the restoring business. Remember Jesus.
Lastly, remember Jesus that the tomb is empty, that the grave couldn’t hold Him and death couldn’t keep Him. As you and I leave in a few moments let’s remember Jesus who said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He will remain closer to us than our very breath. If you haven’t heard anything else I’ve said this morning, hear this. Go this week and remember Jesus.
That’s what The Book says and you know the rest. The Book never lies. Let us pray.
Father, in these moments we have felt your presence. We’ve also been aware of how easy it is to get our minds on something else. Lord, we just want to remember Jesus and have Him shape, and mold, and guard and guide our lives. Help us to do that all week long, Lord, and help us to give testimony to who Jesus really is. By the words we say, but more importantly, by the way we shine. In Jesus’ name. Amen.