We might say we need to remember that Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska for the seven across answer on a crossword puzzle. Or remember that in “1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue” to help our children with their homework. Facts. Mere facts.
However, remembering in the Bible is different. It is mentioned some 235+ times. Jewish culture treats remembering as a behavioral response. Conveying that hearing and obeying are synonymous. In the Hebrew, it literally means “to properly mark, so as to recognize.” The recognizing demands a response. The first mention is found in the story of Noah. God puts Noah, his family, and the animals in a big boat. Outside, the rains are in a downpour. The waters rise and the boat stays afloat for many days. “But God remembered Noah and all… and He sent a wind over the earth and the waters receded” (Genesis 8:1). God remembered. Did He temporarily forget? No. The Omniscient God (All-knowing) does not forget. His plan was implemented and in process. He remembers, He rescues, and He acts. God marked Noah. Genesis 9, the ark now sits on dry ground. Noah and family are out, and the animals disperse. God promises to not do THAT again—promise to not destroy everything with water. Sealing the deal, He gives a rainbow as a reminder.
“I have set My rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth” (9:13-16 NIV, emphasis mine).
The sign of the rainbow was a reminder—to GOD. Even though mankind seems to always keep mucking it up, continuing in disobedience—yet when the bow appears, He remembers. His response will be consistent with His covenant.
Isaiah speaks on behalf of God, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25). He Himself declares before Moses, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6). Oh, the glorious mystery of His mercy, of His grace! God’s response is consistent with His character.
God often directs His people in the Old Testament to remember their past and all that He had said and done for them: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you… Remember the Sabbath… Remember the law…” Why? So, their behavioral response would reflect relationship, they are His. Remember.
Jesus also speaks of remembering. The Last Supper: Jesus instructs the disciples to take the bread and the cup, representing His body and blood and “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22, 1 Corinthians 11). His intent was not assuming we’d forget Him throughout the week, and as we walk into church, seeing the elements up front, and think, “Oh, that’s right, I forgot about Jesus.” No, when we come to the table, and partake of the bread and wine, we remember—we remember ALL that He is, all that He did. We remember His covenant, His character. And yes, He expects a response. We properly mark, honor and recognize God, a response of worship, and of lifestyle.
Whatever it may take for us to remember, to invoke a Godly response—do so. I am right-handed, on my right little pinky finger, I wear a simple gold ring. I wear it to remind me, that whatever I reach for in life, it had better be under the authority of God’s character, and it be in line with God’s covenant.
Remember. Behavioral response.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds” – Hebrews 10:24).
IT IS FINISHED, Red Letter Easter!
Have you ever sat and read through the New Testament and read ONLY the words in red? Jesus’ words. For a completely new perspective, I challenge us to do just that. I know context is everything, but let’s step out of the exegesis box (interpreting the scriptures) for a brief moment, to get an amazing snap shot of Jesus. His strength, authority, His love and compassion.
Without all the narrative, those stand alone red words pack a powerful punch, knowing that Jesus says them. There are dramatic statements, strong commands and tender words. “Let it be so…” (Matt. 3:15) “It is written…” (Matt.4:4) “Get up…” (Matt. 9:6) “Take courage it is I…” (Matt 14:27) “Quiet, Be still…” (Mark 4:39) “Come forth …” (Jn. 11:43) “Don’t be afraid just believe…” (Mark 5:36) “What do you want Me to do for you…” (Mark 10:51) “Who do you say I am…” (Lk. 9:20) “Then neither do I condemn you...” (Jn. 8:11) “I am He…” (Jn. 18:6).
These are just a few, but there is one more that stands out among the rest. Here I do want to set the context. Jesus is agonizingly set between two thieves. His feet and hands are nailed to a wooden cross. Hours earlier, He knelt in a garden declaring with complete honesty, “Abba Father … everything is possible for You. If You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Lk 22:42)
God’s will. There at the foot of the cross, many mocked, some cried and I am confident there were those in complete silence. After the vinegar water was given to Jesus, He said “It is FINISHED...” ( Jn. 19:30 emphasis mine) He then bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
It is finished. The word in the Greek is amazing! Stand back and take in the whole Technicolor filled screen, I don’t think even Steven Spielberg with all his creative genius could convey the scene that was unfolding upon humanity. The word ‘tetelestai’ comes from the verb teleo, meaning: “To bring to an end. To accomplish something not merely to end it, but bring it to perfection for its designed goal.” (Read that again) It signifies the successful end to a particular course of action. Grammatically in the Greek, it is a crucial word, it is in the ‘perfect tense.’ Meaning the action was completed in the past with results continuing in the present. Basically, “This happened and it is still in effect TODAY.” One might say, “The gift that keeps on giving.” (This is different from the ‘past tense’ which points to an event, declaring ‘This happened.’ Nothing more. The end.)
As Jesus said this, His blood flowing down His forehead, from His hands and His feet, He declares sharply, the debt owed to God the Father is now wiped away. His sacrifice, now eliminating the debt owed by mankind … you and me. May we take careful notice, Jesus didn’t say. “I am finished.” That would imply He a mere man and died defeated. Instead, He declares, “It is finished.” When he died, he left no unfinished business behind. He successfully completed the work He came to do. Our sinful inheritance (Thanks Adam & Eve!) causing a HUGE gap between us and God, BUT …because of Jesus’ life, death and RESURRECTION designed of the Father, is now bridged over for full access, clean and righteous in God’s sight. So we might be become mature & whole in our relationship with God. Can we get a AMEN!
Noting, just prior to this spectacular moment in history, Jesus is in the upper room with the disciples sharing the Last Supper. He takes the bread, ripping pieces off the loaf, handing it to them, symbolizing His body to be broken, then the wine symbolizing His blood to be shed. Here is the only place He declares we … REMEMBER. Not Christmas, His birth. Not the healing of the many, the deliverance of the demonic, the turning of the money tables in the Temple. These ALL wonderful, yet they don’t define US. Jesus didnt say, “Think about this in remembrance of me.” He said, ‘Do this…” We are PARTICIPATORS! We actively engage ourselves. We take the bread, the wine and by golly we accept gratefully His sacrifice. “The purpose of the Lord’s death and resurrection was to once and for all open us up to a new and guilt-free relationship with God. Communion is not intended to focus on what you were, but on who God has made you to be in Christ.” – Pastor John Halford. I am now a daughter of the Most High God, when God looks at me, He doesnt see my sinful nature, He sees Jesus. His redemptive blood covering me with love, mercy and amazing grace.
As the pages turn from Genesis to this very moment, God’s story is fulfilled. Does it end here? No! But the bridge back to the Father is perfected. Jesus rises from the dead triumphantly (Happy Easter) engages and commissions the disciples, returns to heaven to reign forever. Now we the church, as inspired by the Holy Spirit carry on with the red letter commands, statements and tender words.
Move over Easter Bunny, here comes the risen King! “It is finished.“ Now let’s LIVE like it really IS! Relationship offered, relationship restored. May we live each day as a red letter day!
Blessed Easter to you and yours,
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)