Life, relationships, teaching sound doctrine, practicing church discipline, etc. can present complex challenges. Pastors need to maintain the simple practice of remembering Christ as they engage knotty and complicated issues. The glory of Jesus and his resurrection outshines and outweighs the problems of this life. Just one glimpse of Him in glory repays the toils of pastoral ministry.
Pastors face a myriad of trials and struggles while shepherding the flock. People they love and trust unexpectedly leave the church and cut off communications. Relationships can leave painful scars. Elders must routinely broach difficult topics and engage in uncomfortable conversations. Shepherds often help members address complicated issues in their lives. Exegeting difficult texts and clearly explaining doctrine regularly pose frequent challenges. Moreover, the faithful pastor must maintain his own commitment to family and personal spiritual disciplines. “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor 2:16) can easily become their life verse (it’s a good one!).
This is part of a series of blog posts encouraging pastors to persevere in their labor (please share these posts with your pastors). This entry will highlight a very simple truth from 2 Timothy to help pastors endure. Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy to exhort him to continue in what he had learned and believed (2 Tim 3:14). Throughout this epistle, the apostle gives several instructions and commands to help church leaders persevere in their work. One of the simplest, clearest, and most profound of these commands is, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel” (2 Tim 2:8). Following this simple command keeps pastors grounded in the truth of the gospel as they navigate the challenges of shepherding the flock.
Remember Jesus Christ, Risen from the Dead
A high school football coach I know was invited to watch the Indianapolis Colts workout and practice. He hoped to learn some new drills or special plays from the professionals. In the practice, however, the NFL coaches focused on the fundamentals of stretching, running, blocking, and tackling. He left a bit disappointed, but then realized an important lesson he had already known—even the greatest players at the highest level must practice the fundamentals of the game.
In Timothy’s distress, Paul reminds him of the fundamentals of the gospel and commands him to remember them. “Remember” is a present imperative verb meaning, “continually remember.” We specifically remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. Paul uses the perfect tense of the verb “risen,” which describes a past event with abiding implications for the present. This points to glorious spiritual realities associated with the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus was raised for our justification (Rom 4:25). Jesus’s resurrection fulfilled the Scripture and vindicated his teachings (Luke 24:26–27). His resurrection further identified him as God (John 20:28). His resurrection proved he had overcome the world and was given all authority in heaven and in earth (Matt 28:18). His resurrection gives us powerful truths to meditate upon—weighty realities to remember in the midst of our struggles.
Remembering requires mental exercise (as in the previous verse, 2 Tim 2:7). Thus, we must intentionally remember the resurrection of Jesus and the benefits we receive from him. In his book Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges offers practical means of preaching the gospel to yourself every day.