The Presbyterian Pulpit
A sermon by the Rev. Dr. David E. Leininger

"REMEMBER JESUS CHRIST..."

Delivered 4/7/96
Text: II Timothy 2:8
To read endnotes, click on the the note number, then click on the to return to your place in the text.

"Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David--that is my gospel...Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David--that is my gospel."

By the time Paul wrote these words to Timothy, memories were about all he had left. He was a battle-worn soldier of the cross. He had been arrested, he had been beaten, he had survived shipwreck. Now he was facing execution for his commitment to Christ. But Paul had his memories...and what he remembered was enough to sustain him. He knew the same would be true for his young friend. "Timothy, remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David--that is my gospel."

"Remember Jesus Christ...descended from David." In other words, remember the humanity of Jesus. He was the one who was descended from Israel's greatest king, the promised Savior. Remember Jesus' life, his commitment to the purposes of God.

Jesus was a man of compassion. The Bible says that he went about doing good, healing the sick, caring for the children, loving and accepting the throw-aways of society. Remember.

Remember what Jesus said. His words were fired with the truth and the authority of God, so much so that some said of him, "Never has a person spoken like him." 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. Remember words like "Come to me all who are weary and burdened down, and I will give you rest." Remember "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life." Remember.

But, we cannot remember his life without also remembering his death. Remember that blood and spit were caked to his cheeks and that his lips were cracked and swollen from dehydration. 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, he did it for me. He did it for you. Remember.

At one time at the City Temple in London, there was in the congregation a restaurateur named Emil Mettler, who was a close friend of Albert Schweitzer and a kind of agent for Schweitzer in Britain. Mettler would never allow a Christian worker to pay for a meal in his restaurant. Once he happened to open his cash register in the presence of a Secretary of the London Missionary Society. The Secretary was surprised to see among the bills and coins a six-inch nail. What was it doing there? Mettler explained, "I keep this nail with my money to remind me of the price that Christ paid for my salvation and of what I owe him in return."(1)

Remember Jesus Christ, the descendant of David, the man.

But remember something else as well, not only on Easter Day but every day: "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead." Remember that early on that first day of the week, God's power caused something unprecedented in human history. Remember that the story of Jesus did not 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.

I was intrigued to see that the cover stories in Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report this week are about the resurrection of Jesus. They discuss the controversy that some have caused by their statements calling the event into question. For whatever it is worth, the issue is not new - even in the first century there were those who found the idea of resurrection incredible. Paul wrote what we find in I Corinthians 15 to answer the skeptics. The resurrection of Jesus HAPPENED, and despite the fact that it is beyond human explaining, the historical evidence for it is overwhelming.

Remember one more thing. Because of the resurrection of Christ we are assured of God's ultimate triumph over sin and death. And this assurance gives us the courage to face the uncertainties of life and the finality of death. Jesus Christ has conquered them both.

All these questions have the same answer: What is it that gives Judy Murphy courage as she and her three sons will stand beside a new grave this week? Judy's husband Walter was a senior vice president of AT&T, an expert in underwater communications connections, also the volunteer vice president of the local YMCA in Scotch Plains, NJ and an elder in the Willow Grove Presbyterian Church. He died on a hill a few miles from the airport in Dubrovnik this past Wednesday along with Ron Brown and 33 others. What will get Walter's family through this?

More questions from the news this week. The President revisited Oklahoma City to mark the one-year anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. How can we see past the martyrdom of 168 helpless men, women, and children blown to bits in Oklahoma City (or anywhere, for that matter) by an insane terrorist?

Questions from the news that goes unnoticed every day. Where do the thoughts of a young couple go when they finally recover from the grief of losing their baby? When a family receives the tragic news that a daughter was killed in a car wreck or their dad has just died of a sudden heart attack or a son overdosed on drugs, what single truth can sustain them? What is the final answer to terminal disease, fatal accidents, and sudden calamities?

You know the answer: one word - RESURRECTION! With every fibre of our being we proclaim that this life is not all there is. Death does not have the final word. "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead -- that is my gospel." Good news. Good news indeed!

A kindergarten teacher in a Christian school 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 telling the story of his death on Calvary. When she was asked what a cross was, the teacher picked up some sticks, demonstrated, 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."(2)

When we remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead we are able to say "totally awesome."

Today, remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead and realize Jesus' life, death, and resurrection are for you, so you can lead a life of joyous hope.

Today, remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead and renew your commitment to be a follower of the risen one.

Today, remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead and relay the message of life to those who know only a deathlike existence.

Today, as we come to the Table, remember Jesus Christ.

Amen!


1. "Let's Talk About Money," a sermon by A. Leonard Griffith quoted in Bible Illustrator for Windows, diskette, (Hiawatha, IA: Parsons Technology, 1994)

2. Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Growing Deep: Exploring the Roots of Our Faith, (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1986), p. 149

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