By now I’m sure you’re aware of the winter storm we have been hit with here in Clark County. For safety sake, we are not asking people to come out to the facility this morning, but instead we are gathering online at lpcvan.com. If you haven’t yet logged on to our online gathering, click the link and join us. For those of you who regularly attend LifePoint, you can give your tithes and offerings here, securely and conveniently online. Though we’re not meeting in the normal way this morning, the mission continues all week at LifePoint, and your faithful and generous giving is a means God uses to fuel that vision. Thank you!
I am excited to begin the Letter to an Exile series today with the first message from 1 Peter. It’s a short message, covering only the first 6 words of the book. We’ll continue next week by getting a thorough overview of the whole letter. This blog is a more in-depth glimpse of my notes on the opening words of the book.
You could say that 1 Peter is a letter written from one follower to another. Peter walked with Jesus all throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, and he was a central player in the aftermath and birth of the church. He was the first disciple called, the chief among the disciples, the first of the twelve to view Jesus’ empty tomb, and the unofficial spokesman for the apostles both during and after Jesus’ earthly ministry. He is one of two central figures in the book of Acts (alongside the Apostle Paul), and the first primary leader we see in the early church. He wrote two letters to the church, the first of which was most likely written from Rome to Christians suffering in Asia Minor.
To be clear, this letter comes from God through the Apostle Peter. Writing with apostolic authority, he is communicating God’s word to “elect exiles” (more on this term next week) both in the 1st and 21st centuries. This isn’t a hypothetical theological treatise written from an ivory tower to a group of academics who sit around all day theologizing about life. This letter comes from the furnace of trial and speaks to followers of Jesus about how we bear witness to the truth of the gospel in a culture where we are strangers and exiles.
This letter comes through a man with whom we can identify. Peter was the definition of a normal guy. A fisherman by trade, his human nature is put on display more than any other character in the New Testament narrative. He displayed flashes of brilliance, followed by blunders of foolishness. Can you relate? I can.
The interesting thing about Peter’s brilliant blunders is their context. His greatest highlights were normally immediately followed by his major gaffes.
- The Great Confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Followed by a rebuke of Jesus after which Jesus says to Peter, “Get behind me Satan!”
- Walking on Water: He steps out of the boat and walks on water to Jesus, only to take his eyes off his Savior and begin to sink.
- Denial: Peter declares in the final hours before Jesus’ arrest, “Even if all betray you, I will never deny you!” Within hours he would deny Jesus three times.
Reading the New Testament, you get the idea that Peter could have authored the Idiots Guide to Following Jesus.
The book of Acts shows the massive shift that happened in Peter when he received the Holy Spirit. Through the first 12 chapters Peter is the primary human figure in the story. He preaches the famous Pentecost sermon in Acts 2, resulting in thousands saved and baptized. He performs miracles of healing, he leads the church, he brings the gospel to the Gentile Cornelius in Acts 10, and he is set free from prison by an angel in Acts 12.
Why did Peter write this letter to the church?
An interesting angle to keep in mind as we study 1 Peter is the fact that the letter is a direct result of a calling that Jesus himself put upon Peter’s life. In John 21, as Jesus is restoring and forgiving Peter, he tells Peter “Feed by sheep, tend my sheep.” He was calling Peter to the type of pastoral care and leadership that overflows in the letter we know at 1 Peter.
As we study this letter together, we’re going to find that its human author was a man with first-hand experience of the depths of depravity as well as the heights of redemption.
First Peter is a letter sent from God to lead us to Jesus.