Imagine an older man, in his final days, gathering his children around him so that he could give them his final words. With one more chance to influence, one more chance to pass the torch, one more chance to leave a legacy. What would he want to say? Would he remind them of the most important things he’s ever told them? Would he give them one last exhortation to live in a way that honors God? Would he spend his final breath stirring them up toward lives of godly passion and holiness?
This is the scene we stumble across when we read 2 Peter, encountering an aging shepherd of the church, convinced that his days are numbered, aiming to remind his spiritual children of the power of the Gospel just one more time.
Jesus had already spoken to Peter about the way he would die (John 21:18-19), which finds Peter, not too long before his martyrdom, writing these words: “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 Peter 1:14-15).
Faced with imminent death, Peter gathers the church around him and stirs them up by way of reminder of the holy life they are to live—a life established in the Gospel Truth. He makes every effort that the Gospel message will not die with him.
It seems that often times, people die in the same manner in which they lived. If they lived devoted to Christ with a passion to see their children walking in the truth, then they die with this on their mind, at the forefront of their heart, giving their last breath to a prayer for this legacy of faith to drive the next generation.
Just as God instructed Joshua and the Israelites to take 12 stones and leave them as a memorial so that their children would ask about the wonders of God’s deliverance (Joshua 4:1-7), we see others in the New Testament striving to ensure that memorials of faith are put in place before they die:
Luke 22:19: And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
Romans 15:14-15: I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God
Jude 5: Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it…
Whether it’s Joshua, Peter, Jesus, Paul, or Jude, we see that spiritual leaders invest in the next generation, constantly reminding them of the goodness of Christ and the Gospel, lest they fall into spiritual amnesia, forgetting their first love (Revelation 2:4-5).
We all have the tendency to take the Lord’s faithfulness for granted. It’s far too common to be more like the 9 lepers healed by Jesus, only to leave and never worship him or give thanks, than to be like the 1 Samaritan leper who fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks for his healing (Luke 17:11-19).
All believers have a rich, powerful, breathtaking testimony of forgiveness, transformation, healing, and new life. We must never forget. We must never fail to worship Christ for all he has done, and we must proclaim this to the next generation until our dying breath.
Oh that the older believers among us would regularly gather their spiritual children around them and joyfully remind them of the beauty of the Gospel, leaving a legacy of faith that will carry tomorrow’s runners through the next leg of the race!
Jonathan Williams is the founder of Gospel Family Ministries. He is also the author of Gospel Family. Jonathan enjoys this ministry alongside his wife, Jessica, and their three children, Gracie, Silas & Elijah. With a heart for families and the church, Jonathan also serves as the pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.