Have you noticed that one of the most frequently repeated commands in the Bible is to remember?
Here is tiny selection of those commands:
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Deuteronomy 5:15
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. Deuteronomy 15:15
Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, 1 Chronicles 16:12
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 2 Tim 2:8
Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent Revelation 3:3
This continual command to remember, isn’t about nostalgia.
I think as God’s people we are commanded to remember for several reasons.
Firstly, it reminds us of God’s faithfulness to His people and so should stir up in us gratitude. Remembering what God has done for His people and for us, in the past, should give us grateful hearts in the here and now.
Secondly, remembering should inspire and strengthen our faith. As we remember what the Lord has done in the past and that He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever, we are reminded that He can do for us what He has done for others in the past.
The third thing that remembering does is sort of difficult to explain because it comes from a Hebrew worldview that is very different from our own. Here is how writer Skye Jethani explains it:
“The Hebrew understanding of remembrance, however, was very different from our own. It was far more than a cognitive exercise or recollection. Paul Bradshaw, a theologian, puts it this way: “In the Jewish world, remembrance was not a purely mental activity … it was not simply about nostalgia for the past … but about asking God to remember His people and complete His saving purpose today.” To remember meant to bring all the power from the past event into the present.”
This partly explains what happens as we remember Christ’s sacrifice at the Lord’s Supper. We are certainly not repeating that sacrifice but as we remember the Cross of Christ, the atonement, its power through the Holy Spirit is present in the here and now in a tangible and accessible way. I think this might explain why people often experience “spiritual breakthroughs” at communion.
Here is something else to remember, this is a command not a suggestion, so this week, don’t forget to remember!