I spent a good bit of time talking about the results of forgetting God both personally and as a culture and emphasized strongly the need for repentance instead of trying to make deals with God. But I had also wanted to spend some on what it would mean to "remember God" since the danger comes from "forgetting God."
We have far more resources than the ancient Israelites did for remembering. For instance, we have all their stories of how God revealed himself to them through those stories. But we also have the life of Jesus himself, providing us with rich material to ponder. Independent of this weeks sermon work, I've been thinking and praying through the incident of Jesus' arrest as its recorded in Matthew 26. I want to share with you what I prayed/wrote regarding this verse early Friday morning:
Matthew 26:50 (ESV) Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you came to do." Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.
Here is what I wrote:
Jesus you replied to him so simply and yet so graciously. At this point you have prayed (in the garden). Here at this point, you are in full control. In the garden and praying, it seems you were not quite so together and then later in that unspeakably horrendous moment from the cross when you cried, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me." But here you are so gracious to Judas even as he is perpetuating such treachery. You called him friend. You called him friend. You called him friend! You knew precisely why he was there. You knew about his evil collaboration. You knew that his heart was never with you, but now he is going public. You knew that he had a very close up seat to see all that you had done and yet his heart remained cold and distant. Yet right here you say, "Friend," (friend!) "Do what you came for." "Carry it out." "This is going to happen." Was this an invitation to Judas even in the doing of it, that he could still come home? There was no more for him to do. Matthew records no other words or actions from Judas. Rather, those who are with Judas come up at this point, now that Judas has already identified you, and they lay their hands on you and they seize you. Surely this was rough and intimidating. I've not given much thought to this before. Surely this wasn't a compassionate act either. The word "seize" communicates that it was with some force, if not violence that they did this. They seized you, who by your very spoken word created the heavens. You are the one of whom the writer of Hebrews said:
Hebrews 1:1-4 (ESV) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
So Jesus, I worship you. I worship you for your poise and your brilliance in what you endured in this moment. I give you praise for what you did in this moment of living through the betrayal of Judas, of enduring the brief and perhaps gentle contact between you and him. Probably such a gretting had happened many times, but never so momentously. It was in these moments the first of so many ways in which they put their hands on you with mocking and murderous intent. Jesus, you set your face like flint toward all this. You knew this was coming. I'm up late right now because I cannot sleep, but you were awake all night for us and experienced deeply brutal treatment beyond our imagination. And so Jesus, I want to worship you. i want to be amazed by you. I want to look to the cross in just this way so that I may fully know you and that i may have both the courage and the compassion to move into serving this family and this culture.
You may be thinking, "I don't see all that in that short verse." And you don't need to. But I'm hoping it will help you see a practical way to remember Jesus and to think more deeply about who he is. It is this kind of remembering that works in our hearts to draw our hearts to Him in such a way that conviction is formed so that we have the passion and the courage to obey.