“Do you not remember?” Jesus asks this question of his disciples in Matthew 16:9. They have – again – misunderstood something that He said to them, and He says, “Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?” (Matthew 16:9-10). Remembering is important. It is clear just from this passage alone that Jesus places a high value on remembering.
I believe that Jesus is reminding us of the importance of remembering because it helps us to understand Him and His work. Just prior to the verses above, Jesus says, “Do you not yet perceive?” (Matthew 16:9) And later, He asks, “How is it that you fail to understand…” Matthew 16:11). Remembering leads to greater understanding. Have you ever looked back on an event in your life, one that you didn’t understand at the time, and finally, perhaps even years later, thought – THAT’S why that happened. I have, for sure. I believe that is what Jesus is talking about here.
Later in this same chapter, Jesus speaks over Peter, saying, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). I have always loved this verse; whenever I read the word “rock” here, it reminds me of the idea of standing stones mentioned in Joshua 4:7: “So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” For years, I have wanted to create some sort of memory box, our own version of standing stones, to honor God’s work in our little family. I want to always remember the good work He has done, and I would love to have a tangible memory of that work. Today’s reading, about rocks and remembering, is the push I need to actually begin this project!
One last note. If you have time today, take a minute to read Psalm 89. It begins, “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 89:1) and ends, “Blessed be the Lord forever!” (Psalm 89:52). The theme of remembering winds through this Psalm, and it is a sweet complement to Matthew 16.