1 Peter #12 1 Peter 3:18-22 Payday: First Easter Sunday Resurrection
1 Peter #12 1 Peter 3:18-22 Payday: First Easter Sunday Resurrection
A Christ follower; is a person who has acknowledged their need for a savior to deliver them from the messes in their life, one who has believed that the savior they need is Jesus with forgiveness, reconciliation, and a fresh start that only He can bring. Then having acknowledged and believed this individual committed her or himself to be Jesus’ disciple and then received God’s permission to become a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven; for such a person it is not unusual to experience suffering as you diligently accomplish God’s will.
We’ve been exploring Peter’s advice for handling suffering for doing good. We made a distinction between suffering persecution and what we called natural suffering. In our teaching for Easter, we added suffering because of disobedience. When we are dealing with suffering from persecution one of the keys to enduring is taking a larger view of our situation looking in hope of God using our pain to bring about a greater good. Peter is going to give us an example to encourage us as we strive to live an exemplary life in the face of persecution.
Once again let’s enter this world of persecuted Christians to whom Peter is writing.
1 Peter 3:18-22 (MSG)
That's what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.
19 He went and proclaimed God's salvation to earlier generations who ended up in the prison of judgment 20 because they wouldn't listen. You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact—saved from the water by the water. 21 The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus' resurrection before God with a clear conscience. 22 Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He's standing right alongside God, and what he says goes.
Reading the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the word picture is painted of the sufferings that Jesus experienced. Jesus was misunderstood, used, doubted, threatened, slandered, betrayed, falsely accused of sedition, and executed all for what He understood to be God’s plan for Him. Jesus did the will of God and was killed for it. Getting killed is not much of a reward in the eyes of the world. From the human under the sun perspective (Ecclesiastes), this is more of a punishment.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote:
Isaiah 53:3-5 (MSG)
He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, and thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment…
It's hard enough to do good, but to do good and suffer for it is that much more difficult. When you suffer for getting the job that God wants you to get done there is a payday coming. Consider a woman in labor, she’s in the process of giving birth, and that process is painful. Birthing is an ordeal, the birth a reward. Many, many times, the pain is quickly forgotten because of the joy all that effort resulted in. Consider the athlete, training, training, training, finding the limit and then raising the bar, perfecting skill sets, creating muscle memory, and all the discipline to eat right and think right, exhaust yourself, and then get up and do it again the next day. All to win the prize. Winning is payday. You know the saying, “No pain, no gain.” Unfortunately for me, I have found that no pain leads to weight gain. Consider the medical doctor. To become a doctor, you must spend hours studying, after premed, there are four more years of medical school, then there are more years of supervised internship called a residency. There is constant learning through experience. Then comes that day when, because of your efforts, a sick person becomes well, that’s payday. Consider Jesus.
Philippians 2:5-8 (MSG)
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion.
Peter writes that for Jesus, the payday is leading you to the One He called Father (1 Peter 3:18) and to present you holy and blameless in His sight (Colossians 1:21-22). Every time a person bends their knee to the Lordship of Christ and enters the Kingdom, that’s Jesus’ payday. Every soul saved is a new reward that makes the His suffering worth the sacrifice.
You know that Jesus’ story doesn’t end with the crucifixion. If it did, then Jesus would be just another great philosopher with insights into human nature and how we are to overcome our selfish desires with love. He’d be on par with the Beatles who sang “all you need is love, luv, love is all you need.” The story continues:
God honors Jesus with a resurrection. Scientifically impossible for dead people, 3 days dead people, to come back to life. Yet eyewitnesses reported that this is exactly what happened (1 Corinthians 15:3-5, 17). Not only was there a resurrection there was an exaltation:
Philippians 2:9-11 (MSG)
Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that He is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.
When you are persecuted for your faith, and suffering because you have bent your knee to Jesus, take a larger perspective. God can use your pain to bring about a greater good. One day you will receive a payday for your loving service (Matthew 16:27, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, Ephesians 6:8, Colossians 3:23, James 1:12, Revelation 22:12). Trust God to empower you to endure.
Hebrews 12:2 (MSG)
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.
What Peter writes in verses 19 through 21 is difficult to grasp. If we take into consideration that the only written scripture that believers have at this time is the Hebrew Bible, what we call the Old Testament, the reference to Noah may be the key. “The congregation, much like Noah and his family, found themselves as a minority surrounded by hostile unbelievers. In a world full of wickedness, Noah was deemed righteous, and Peter urges his readers to also strive for righteousness amidst the wickedness of unbelievers. Noah fearlessly proclaimed his beliefs to those around him, the ark was built, and similarly, Peter encourages his readers to boldly witness their faith. Noah knew that judgment was imminent, and Peter reminds his readers that God's judgment will indeed come, perhaps sooner rather than later. Despite being saved with only a select few, Noah remained faithful, and Peter seeks to bolster the faith of his readers by assuring them that despite being a small group, they too will ultimately be saved” (Powers p. 124. Rewritten by ChatGPT 02/24/23).
With that understanding, the earlier generations would be the descendants of Adam and Eve up to Noah’s contemporaries. To these, God’s salvation message is delivered by Jesus Himself. This is in keeping with 2 Peter 3:9—"God isn't late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn't want anyone lost. He's giving everyone space and time to change” (MSG).
Then Peter writes about baptism. We should stick with the Noah parallels to make sense of verse 21—"The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus' resurrection before God with a clear conscience” (MSG). The deluge, the flood waters, saved Noah from being included in God’s judgment of a wicked world. Peter is drawing an analogy, water saved Noah, so the baptismal waters saves you. Now we know that a ritual doesn’t save, it is only when we bend the knee to the Lordship of Christ that we are saved. Christian baptism is the outward testimony of God’s justifying grace in our lives. The ritual of baptism is your telling the world of the salvation that God has already worked into your life. The ritual is an identification with the resurrection of Jesus. You enter the water, symbolizing leaving your old life behind, you are immersed in the water, symbolizing your death to that old way of doing life, you rise from the water, symbolizing your resurrection, and then you leave the water, symbolizing your new life in Christ. The ritual is about recognizing your sin, judging your sin, and entering a new life with a clear conscience (2 Corinthians 5:17). You can think of baptism as your public pledge to stay loyal to God, steadfast even when you are persecuted for your faith.
Peter reminds us that Jesus has the last word, not the haters, not the persecutors, not the circumstance. His teaching comes to mind: “The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all” (John 11:25-26 (MSG). “Suffering and struggle are always temporary. ALWAYS! Most of the time God leads us out of them in this life, but they never come with us into the next life” (Rollie Miller, The Bond of Love, Volume 25 No. 9 March 2023). We transcend our suffering with a vision of final salvation.
Peter continues his instruction to do life like Jesus in chapter 4 which we will pick up next time.
Take this encouragement from today’s teaching home with you. Expect that you will be persecuted for doing good, but take heart, when the going seems impossible hard, remember Jesus has the last word. Remaining steadfast and loyal those last words will be “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!” (Matt 25:21 (NIV).
Let these words of the Apostle Paul be your benediction:
Philippians 2:12-13 (MSG)
12 What I'm getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you've done from the beginning. … you live in responsive obedience… keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
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