Key Verse: I Peter 1:6 NLT So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.
During this series, we are talking about the reality of our suffering and the proper response we should have to that reality. The book of 1 Peter was written as a source of encouragements to embrace as you are going through suffering in your own life. Last week, we talked about the reality that we are not home yet! Our home is in Heaven which Christ has prepared for us all. Therefore, we can rejoice even in the midst of what we face daily in this world.
Today, we will look at I Peter 1:13-2:10 as we go deeper into the reality of our suffering and its impact on our faith.
Reality #2: Suffering can make you question your faith
I Peter 1:13-16 NLT So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
- Suffering can lead to compromise.
- Left unchecked, it could lead to giving up on God.
Response #2: Follow Christ’s example
Christ remained faithful in his mission on this earth even in the toughest of circumstances! God’s plan was for Jesus to be the ransom for many.
I Peter 1:17-21 And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” 18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake. 21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.
John 3:17 NLT God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
I want to remind you of how many times the evil one tried to tempt our Lord Jesus TO QUIT HIS PLAN, to bypass the cross, and not go through with God’s redemption plan. But in all of this, Christ remained faithful to the will and call of God. Aren’t you glad He didn’t give up on us? It was through His steadfastness, His faithfulness, that we can all find the blessed hope of salvation.
Hebrews 12:2 [L]ooking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who FOR the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Here is an interesting observation, I want you to think about.
The word “for” is the little Greek word “anti” (pronounced “AHN-tee’ in Greek) – or in ENGLISH, we sometimes pronounce it, “anti” like “anti-christ” or “antiprogressive or anti = [whatever we are against].” Etc.
In ENGLISH, “anti” means “against.” BUT in Greek, “ahn-tee” most common definition is “instead of.” So, for example, we think of Satan as the “anti-Christ” or “AGAINST Christ”…and he IS! BUT, in Greek, the emphasis is really emphasizing that he is placing himself IN THE PLACE OF CHRIST (“instead of” Christ). Which is most certainly is trying to do (e.g. “I will be like the most high”). Well, in Hebrews 12:2, the little word “for” is the Greek word “ahn-tee” which probably is conveying the concept of “instead of.” NOW read it with that in mind
and reads like this:
[L]ooking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who INSTEAD OF the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Put this way, it sounds like there were multiple times that the ultimate joy (or the prize/result/reward) of going to the cross was set before him and was tempted to jump straight to the prize and bypass the pain & suffering of cross?! YES, that is exactly what happened multiple times in his earthly ministry:
1. During the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, Satan says, “just bow down to me and I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world.” In other words, “just do this, and you can bypass the cross! Think about yourself, why suffer?”
2. During the night in Gethsemane, Jesus told Peter, “Don’t you know I have the power to call 12 legions of angels and get out of this moment right now?” But then Jesus adds, “But if I got out of this, how would I fulfill the mission my Father sent me to do?”
A legion consisted of six thousand soldiers. So the number Jesus used (twelve legions) was equivalent to an army of 72,000 angels. Because a single angel was capable of defeating an entire army (e.g., 2 Kgs. 19:35), Jesus had at his disposal an infinitely larger power than was needed to handle the mob. This was not the time for a fight. God’s perfect plan would be carried out this night.
3. While Jesus is hanging on the cross, the Roman soldier yelled up to Jesus, “if you’re the Son of God, save yourself! Come on down off that cross!” I believe that was one last ditch effort by the evil one to try to get Jesus to bypass the cross, and as a result, thwart the plan God had for all of mankind.
Remember, our response to suffering should be to Follow Christ’s Example! He remained faithful in his mission on this earth even in the toughest of circumstances!
Be Encouraged: God’s Word is faithful
I Peter 1:22-25 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. 23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 24 As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. 25 But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.
- God’s Word is always True
- God’s Word promises hope for eternity
Be Encouraged: Time in God’s Word makes us more like Him.
I Peter 2:1-3 So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment,3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
- What you crave will determine how you live
- So, always crave the Word of God
Be Encouraged: Our suffering rivals God’s power
The unsaved world will always watch to see how you endure suffering. They will wonder
HOW are you making it through this tough time and still retain the joy which comes from
Christ. Just as HE was rejected and then exalted, we can endure suffering and come
out strong and show the world that God is real, that He is powerful, and He delivers and
sustains His own!
I Peter 2:4-10 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 6 As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 7 Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” 8 And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. 9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 10 “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”
- You are light in the mist of darkness