All throughout the Old Testament, there is a call to “remember.” From establishing the Passover as a memorial to recall God’s powerful deliverance in the Exodus, to repeated calls to remember the Lord all throughout Deuteronomy as Israel is about to enter the Promised Land, the people of God were called to be a remembering people. Remembering the Lord always led to worship, repentance, and covenant faithfulness. On the other hand, forgetting the Lord produced doubt, idolatry, pride, and covenant breaking. So, what does this have to do with discipleship?
Israel was a “come and see” religion, focused on being a holy nation in the midst of pagan nations, so that those surrounding nations would see the goodness of God through the lives of his people, and be drawn in to come worship the one true God of heaven and earth. Because of this, Israel’s discipleship was focused on the home (raising children to be godly disciples) in order to pass down the faith from generation to generation within Israel, and was always centered on remembering the Lord’s mighty work and words (specifically the Exodus). Jewish families were called to keep the Passover Meal together in their homes as a “memorial feast”, to remember the night when God spared them from death and freed them from slavery in the Exodus (Ex. 12:14). Moses called them to remember that day forever:
- Exodus 13:3 – “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the Lord brought you out from this place.”
- Deuteronomy 5:15 – “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”
- Deuteronomy 6:4-7 – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
- Deuteronomy 6:12-13 – “Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the Lord your God you shall fear.”
While Israel failed (by and large) to remember the Lord and keep his commands, God remained faithful. He was committed to having a holy people who would bear witness to his name among the nations. So at the right time, he sent his son Jesus, who would bring true and lasting freedom to his people forever. Jesus did what Israel (and us) could never do, and lived a perfecly righteous life, perfectly obeying God in all that he did. Through his life, death, and resurrection Jesus brought more than just freedom from slavery in Egypt, he brought freedom from slavery to sin.
“Through his life, death, and resurrection Jesus brought more than just freedom from slavery in Egypt, he brought freedom from slavery to sin.”
As the true Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7), Jesus delivers us from death, sparing us with his own blood shed on the cross, so that whoever believes in him has eternal life. Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14). Jesus Christ brought a better Exodus for all who believe, leading his people out of death and slavery and into eternal life.
As Christians, we are still called to disciple our children and homes as a first priority, but our calling now is more about “go and tell” than “come and see.” We are called to go to all the nations and tell them what God has done for the world in Christ’s death and resurrection. We are called to go preach the gospel, to go make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them all that Jesus commanded. As the Apostles carried out this command in the first century, we see that discipleship continued to be centered around remembering, but the specific event to remember changed from Israel's Exodus to the death and resurrection of Jesus as proclaimed in the gospel.
“The specific event to remember changed from Israel's Exodus to the death and resurrection of Jesus as proclaimed in the gospel.”
The Apostle Paul says to his disciple Timothy, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel” (2 Tim. 2:8). Even though Timothy knew the gospel and was a mature believer, Paul continued to call him to remember Jesus and remember the gospel. To recall the finished work of Jesus, the Messiah from King David's line, who is risen from the dead and reigning on high in heaven. Paul makes it clear for us that we never outgrow our need to remember the gospel. He follows this call to remember by digging deeper into the implications of the gospel, reciting a common creed about the gospel, and then calls Timothy to “remind them of these things” (2 Tim. 2:14). As Paul discipled Timothy, he reminded him of the gospel and encouraged him to remind others of the gospel as he made disciples.
“As Paul discipled Timothy, he reminded him of the gospel and encouraged him to remind others of the gospel as he made disciples.”
In light of this, here are a few simple ways to apply this in your discipleship relationships:
- Remember who it's all about: As you discuss the word, think about how each text points to Jesus’ death and resurrection for our redemption
- Remember what's been done: Don’t only focus on what you are doing or not doing, but remember what has already been done in Christ
- Remind each other of grace: As you confess sins to each other, remind each other that all sin has been paid for on the cross and we are forgiven
- Remind others the good news: Encourage each other to remind others of the gospel as you make disciples
Remember the gospel, and remind others of the gospel as you go make disciples! For more helpful resources on this topic, visit our page on discipleship.
-Holland Greig, Lead Pastor, Eastside Community Church