Paul’s teachings to the early church congregations are immortal, bearing the truth of Jesus Christ through the ages until His return. Knowing the obstacles and struggles young Timothy would face, Paul gives his greatest fatherly encouragement and appeal in 2 Timothy 2. Before his discourse about being a worker approved by God, Paul reminds Timothy of the importance of remembering what he has learned. 2 Tim. 2: 8-10 say, “Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach.” Paul could be reflecting on the Last Supper where Jesus told his disciples to “Do this in remembrance of me.” Paul’s statement to Timothy urges all believers to remember three things.
First, remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead. The Greek tense of the word ‘risen’ indicates a continued state which lasts forever. It is good to remember the actual resurrection of Jesus, but Paul’s implication is for us to remember our risen and ever-present Lord. The great inspiration here is that we do not depend on a mere memory, but we enjoy the power of God’s presence. When we are called to a great task, we feel beyond our ability or strength; we must face it with the certainty we do not go alone. When fears threaten, when doubts assail, when inadequacy depresses, remember the presence and power of our risen Lord are with us forever.
Next, we are reminded that Jesus is a descendant of King David indicating his humanity. We do not remember one who is only a spiritual presence, but one who trod the human road lived this life and faced this struggle. Therefore, he knows what we are going through. We not only have the presence of the glorified Christ with us but also the Christ who knew the desperate struggle of being a man. As such, in sacrificial obedience, he followed the will of his Father until the bitter end (Hebrews 12:2).
Finally, we remember the gospel. The gospel demands a lot from us. It often leads to an effort which seems beyond human ability. Sometimes it takes us to a future that seems dark with every kind of threat. Despite these challenges, we must remember that it is the Good News that the world is waiting for. However hard the task the gospel offers, it brings a message of liberation from sin and victory over circumstances for us and for all mankind (Isaiah 61:1).
Paul remembered these three things while he was a prisoner in Rome bound in chains to the arm of a Roman soldier day and night. Yet, in keeping the gospel in practice, he said, “Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of God’s chosen ones, that they too may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” He was certain that, though he might be bound, God’s presence was with him and nothing could bind the word of God.
Andrew Melville, a Scottish scholar, theologian and religious reformer was denounced by a governor who said, “There will never be quietness in this country till half a dozen of you be hanged or banished from the country.” Melville answered,
“Rubbish! Sir, threaten your courtiers in that fashion. It is the same to me whether
I rot in the air or in the ground. The earth is the Lord’s; my fatherland is wherever
well-doing is. I have been ready to give my life when it was not half as well worn,
at the pleasure of my God. I lived out of your country ten years as well as in it. Yet,
God be glorified, it will not lie in your power to hang or exile his truth!”
Though man can be exiled, the truth cannot! A preacher can be imprisoned, but you cannot imprison the truth he preaches. One of the facts of history is that if human effort could have obliterated Christianity, it would have perished long ago. Man cannot kill what is immortal!
Paul knew his suffering was not pointless or profitless. He was certain it would benefit other people. The lighting of the pyre where Christians were burned has always been the lighting of a fire which could never be extinguished. When we must suffer as followers of Christ, remember our suffering makes the road easier for those who will follow later. In suffering, we bear our own small portion of the weight of the cross of Christ (Luke 9:23) and do our own small part in the bringing of God’s salvation to men. As we journey through this life of living in obedient sacrifice to God’s call and purpose, let us remember that we go with His presence while enduring the human struggle and keeping our minds stayed on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.