How many times have you said, “I forgot”? How many times did you forget to say “I forgot”? Forgetfulness is one of our major problems. Fortunately, there’s a remedy—reminders. God knows our tendency to forget so he’s filled the Bible with reminders. The following three men in Scripture spent their last few moments giving reminders.
1.) Moses left the people of Israel with a massive review lesson called the book of Deuteronomy. In Deuteronomy, Moses rehearses the previous forty-year period in Israel’s history. The book is replete with the command to remember and even contains a song to aid Israel’s memory (Dt. 32).
2.) On the night before Jesus died, he took bread and broke it and said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Lk. 22:19 NIV). In so doing, Jesus set the review of his sacrifice in perpetual motion. And note that Jesus’ review was an edible and tactile object lesson.
3.) Peter also left his listeners with a review lesson. In his second letter, Peter wrote,
“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things” (2 Pet. 1:12-15 ESV).
Peter acknowledges that his readers already know what he’s telling them. There are implications here for both the listener and the speaker. For the listener, try to avoid the “I already know that” reflex. Don’t despise hearing the same thing for a second, third, or fourth time because reminders are good for us. For the speaker, it’s okay to cover the same ground with your audience. Relieve yourself of the pressure of trying to say something new every time you speak.
Second, think of reminders as stirring sticks. Peter writes, “I think it right . . . to stir you up by way of reminder” (v. 13). And two chapters later, “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles” (2 Pet. 3:1-2 ESV). There are many things that enter our brain with a flourish to only settle somewhere in the back. Regular reminders keep important information fresh. The stirring stick is necessary.
Third, reminders are important enough to be our last words. Knowing that death was near, Peter put his energy into helping his audience remember what he had taught them. “I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things” (2 Pet. 1:15 ESV). Peter wasn’t trying to share something new and profound at the end of his life. Like Moses and Jesus, Peter wanted to go out on a review lesson. All three knew that without the review their best lesson was soon to be forgotten.
[This post is part of my Guide for High School Bible Teachers.]