Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 22 2013 - 1 Peter 1:1-12 – A living hope

Put yourself for a moment in the shoes (or sandals) of the apostle Peter. He had been called from his work as a fisherman by a remarkable teacher who had promised to make him a fisher of men. He had abandoned his means of living to follow Jesus and learn from him. For three years he had listened to his teaching and had seen his miracles. More than that, he had walked on water to meet Jesus. He had been sent out with other disciples to heal the sick, cast out demons and to preach good news to the poor. He had tasted the presence and power of the kingdom of God. When the crowds had been offended at Jesus’ teaching and had turned back from following him, Peter had not deserted Jesus, for no one but Jesus had the words of eternal life. Peter had come to believe and confess that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And then it had all gone so terribly wrong. They had travelled up to Jerusalem for Passover. The crowds had cheered as Jesus came riding into the city on a donkey – David’s greater son returning to the city of David. Jesus had gone to the Temple and had chased out the merchants and had overturned the tables of the money changers – the Lord whom they sought had suddenly come to his Temple. But then, Jesus was arrested, made the subject of a show trial and condemned to death. Peter and the other disciples had fled in disarray. Worse than that, Peter had later sneaked back to see what would happen at the trial. No legions of angels came to save Jesus and vindicate his claim to be the Messiah. Peter’s expectations had been shattered and he was scared for his own life. Three times he disowned Jesus. What’s the point in continuing to confess a helpless captive, on route to crucifixion? Peter must have been thinking what was later to be expressed by the couple on the road to Emmaus, “We had hoped that this was to be the one who would save Israel.” All his hopes were shattered.

Shattered that is until the third day. On that first Easter Sunday the crucified and buried Jesus had risen again from the dead. They had seen him and had spent time with him. For forty days he had been with them, teaching them about the kingdom of God. And in a moment of wonderful mercy, Jesus had recommissioned denying Peter, calling him again to follow him and to minister the gospel of the kingdom.

And then Jesus left them and they were alone. Until, on the day of Pentecost the risen Jesus Christ poured out his Spirit upon them from heaven, empowering them for the work of the kingdom. Shattered hopes had become hope revived. More than that, they had been born again “into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). A “living hope” because it rests in a living Saviour; one who has conquered death and who lives for ever. Nothing could ever be the same again for Peter. Nothing could ever again extinguish the hope he had in the Lord Jesus.

And now Peter is writing to Christians scattered throughout a number of Roman provinces. Many of them were probably Gentiles, yet all of them now share this same living hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. You also, says Peter, have a share in him, even though you have not seen the risen Christ as we did. He has gone to prepare a place for you in glory and by his Spirit he will guard you from deserting him; he will bring you safely to the place he has prepared for you. You are the recipients of the blessings that the prophets spoke about. You are those upon whom the fulfilment of the ages has come. Angels watch with rapt attention the unfolding of God’s salvation plan; they watch with wonder what God is doing in and through you.

What Peter wrote to these first century Christians he writes also to twenty-first century Christians. We also have a living hope in Jesus Christ, grounded in his resurrection from the dead and the witness of the Spirit. “Though [we] have not seen him, [we] love him; and even though [we] do not see him now, [we] believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for [we] are receiving the end result of [our] faith, the salvation of [our] souls” (1:8-9).

Father God, we bless you for the living hope that is ours in a crucified, risen and ascended Saviour – a living Saviour. Help us to love him who first loved us and to serve him as we speak of him who its hope.

Peter Misselbrook