As we go through yet another week of seclusion, disappointment, separation, and perhaps even illness ourselves; and await with eager expectation a release from the curbs and restrictions caused by the pandemic, we should remember what Saint Peter wrote in our text for this week: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit….”
I don’t mean to say that our sufferings are equal to what Jesus experienced. Far from it! By our sins (and because of the sins of others) we often only get little of what we truly deserve—God’s eternal wrath and condemnation in hell.
We have earned and we deserve far worse than anything we could have gotten here in this life and world. Because of our sins of thought, word, and deed, and because we often think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think we may be tempted to try to work things out without Christ Jesus. But St. Peter reasoned: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God….” Just a little later he wrote: “Baptism … now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ … who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God.”
Baptism, however, is more than simply an appeal to God based on Jesus Christ and His cross-bought merits. We are told in verse 21 of our text: “Baptism … now saves you.” Baptism is a saving washing of regeneration and God’s Word to work forgiveness of sins and it brings to a soul everlasting salvation. It is truly a means of God’s grace!
We pray: Lord God Almighty, we thank and praise you for giving us things that comfort and encourage us even when we cannot fully understand them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Posted on May 17, 2020 5:04 AM
For me, this reading from 1 Peter is one of the most powerful and telling of texts. It describes so well what I have witnessed and experienced in my ministry, and it so well summarizes what it is that I hope to share in these devotions. It summarizes what I hope we all will experience and know in our hearts.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ—a child born in a stable, an early refugee from totalitarian terrorism, raised in a God-fearing home, trained as a carpenter, grown into an itinerant preacher and miracle-worker, hated by established religion, arrested and tried in a mockery of justice, crucified on a Roman cross and laid to rest in a borrowed tomb only to be raised back to life on the third day, ascended back to his heavenly home, and promising to come back to earth to lead his followers into everlasting glory in heaven—this Gospel is the heart of the Christian faith and the pure spiritual milk Peter references in our reading. It identifies who we are and whom we worship and serve. This Gospel tells the world how it can escape eternal damnation in hell.
The final verse in this reading says so much: “Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” This is what the Good News of Jesus Christ say and does.
We pray: Heavenly Father, we praise and thank You for sending Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Leader, and for giving us Your Holy Spirit to build in our hearts that saving faith! Help us always to celebrate it, share it, and draw strength from it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Posted on May 10, 2020 5:10 AM
A question is often asked: What did I do to deserve this? Sometimes, I suspect this question is asked because folks feel that they are being unjustly accused or persecuted; but at other times it may be otherwise. That is, sometimes people sometimes operate with a sense of denial in their hearts and minds, but they carry a burden of guilt and shame or harbor a sense of being unforgiven. However, when we consider the Gospel contained in today’s reading we are confronted with a clear statement of Good News. Listen!
The situation is this: People are sinners, and for this reason they deserve God’s condemnation and wrath—punishment in hell forever and ever. Peter reasoned: “For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure?” But Peter continued his thought: “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
He (Christ) committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
The Gospel purpose is this: “By (Christ’s) wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” This is never a matter of anything we do or say. It is the matter of what Christ Jesus has done for us. We are saved from our sins through God’s grace in Christ Jesus. This is the bottom line in our salvation history.
We pray: Lord God, enable us always to remember, drawn strength from, and take direction for living in this Gospel message. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Posted on May 03, 2020 5:51 AM