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What Should We Remember?
April 06, 2023*
By Pastor John Partridge
Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14 John 13:1-17, 31b-35 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Even a cursory glance at our history books reminds us that there are a great many things that we are supposed to remember. We have been told that we should “Remember the Alamo,” “Remember the Maine,” “Remember the Lusitania,” remember Pearl Harbor, remember 9-11, and those don’t even count the movies that asked us to “Remember the Titans,” or political slogans like “Remember the Dreamers.” Probably a good percentage of the people in this room could not tell me why we’re supposed to remember the Maine and even less what we should remember about the Lusitania even though most of those things happened less than 100 years ago and all of them happened within the last 200 years.
But some of the things that we are called upon to remember in church happened two thousand years ago, and others closer to 3500 years ago. So, what is it that we should remember? Specifically, as it relates to Holy Week and Easter, the first, and oldest, of these things is found in the story of Passover and the rescue of the people of Israel from their slavery in Egypt, roughly speaking depending on whether you believe in an early or a late date, around 1300 BCE. We find God’s command to remember that event in Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14.
12:1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lambfor his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.
11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.
12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.
After Israel is rescued from eight hundred years of slavery in Egypt, God commands them to celebrate that rescue every year so that they can remember it forever.
But then, more than a thousand years later, while Jesus and his disciples were celebrating Passover, Jesus gave them a new thing to remember. We find that command in the story found in John 13:1-17, 31b-35.
13:1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
31 Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Jesus didn’t repeal God’s command to remember Passover, he added to it. Jesus said that just as they remembered God’s grace and the rescue of Israel from slavery, his followers should always remember how much he loved them. But the way that they should remember his love was to love the people around them the way that Jesus had loved, to love with such an extravagant love, that everyone would know that they were his followers.
But that wasn’t the only thing that Jesus asked them to remember. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, the Apostle Paul remembers something else that Jesus wanted his people to remember forever. Paul says…
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
And so, much like “Remember the Alamo,” but far more urgent and enduring, God commands us to remember. What God wants us to remember is that although it took longer than they expected, God never stopped loving his people and rescued them from their slavery and distress. God wants us to remember that his Son loved the people around him, and us, with an extravagant kind of love. Jesus calls all of us who follow him to remember how much he loved, and calls us to love the people around us with the same extravagant, costly, even life-threatening love with which Jesus loved. And finally, in place of sharing an annual Passover meal, Jesus asks us to regularly share this meal, the Eucharist, or communion, to remind us of all these things. We share this meal together to remember the life, death, resurrection, and crazy, extravagant, costly, love of Jesus Christ and to remember that the love with which Jesus loved us, is the love to which he calls us to love others.
And that, is what we are supposed to remember.
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*You have been reading a message presented at Christ United Methodist Church on the date noted at the top of the first page. Rev. John Partridge is the pastor at Christ UMC in Alliance, Ohio. Duplication of this message is a part of our Media ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you. Letters and donations in support of the Media ministry or any of our other projects may be sent to Christ United Methodist Church, 470 East Broadway Street, Alliance, Ohio 44601. These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership. You may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at secretary@CUMCAlliance.org. These messages can also be found online at https://pastorpartridge.com . All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.comThe “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™