I Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Peter is writing to people who once had no place in society let alone with God but now they have access to His mercy, privileges, and grace. “Once the people who had been different from others were the Jews; now the people who are different are the Christians.a” People like us. I have been using the word “exile” in regard to being isolated as a result of coronavirus. I know “exile” is not a perfect comparison but it certainly fits the bill as far as being kept from activities and places that are easily defined as native to us is concerned. In that context we are people experiencing exile as a modern-day wake-up call to another even a more important comparison.
God gave those early exiles a bridge to get to His great mercy. Exile completely changed their focus from what was familiar to them and opened their eyes to Someone with the power to “elect” them “through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Jesus became their “living hope” for that moment in time. It’s an interesting idea to consider that what God did for them…then…He may be doing for us now; changing our focus from exile to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.
Please consider this idea as you read I Peter with me over the next few weeks: today we are the “elect exiles.” God intends what we read in His record of the past will prepare us for our future and open our eyes to a “living hope” today. Today in the midst of our “exile” and “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, we still “are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Jesus is still the bridge between our exile today and our inheritance tomorrow.”
a William Barclay on I Peter
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken
Cliff notes characters from Mark 2
• A paralyzed man, Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth, the teachers of the law who were Pharisees and John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees who were fasting.
• Focus: Mark 2:25 He [Jesus] answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Mark 2 is a rich resource of who, what, where, when and why Jesus brings about the renewal of the worn out, run-down, or broken. All that information was the key to why I distilled my focus to the last four verses of the chapter where Jesus reveals his own Sabbath identity“…The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Jesus is Lord of the seven-day-a-week rhythm we call Sabbath. His Sabbath identity is the encouragement of all the “renewals” I saw in this chapter. Jesus’s Sabbath identity was made for us too. His Sabbath identity is the bridge of encouragement that connects our human need to our renewal.
I Corinthians 1:18 I know very well how foolish it sounds to those who are lost, when they hear that Jesus died to save them. But we who are saved recognize this message as the very power of God. 19 For God says, “I will destroy all human plans of salvation no matter how wise they seem to be, and ignore the best ideas of men, even the most brilliant of them.” 20 So what about these wise men, these scholars, these brilliant debaters of this world’s great affairs? God has made them all look foolish and shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. 21 For God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find God through human brilliance, and then he stepped in and saved* all those who believed his message, which the world calls foolish and silly. [TLB]
The Jewish mindset was confidence in the law. Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah because his death on a cross marked him as a law-breaker cursed by God [see Deuteronomy 21:23]. The cross was “useless nonsense” to them.
The Greek’s idea of God was a just and impartial ruler that remained detached from the emotions and influence of his creation. Therefore the idea that “God the Son” would suffer on a cross to save so many seemed “foolish and silly” to them.
Isn’t it interesting that the cross was the stumbling block to salvation for each of those polar opposite ideas? “God in his wisdom saw to it that” the cross could become a bridge. “When they hear that Jesus died to save them” they each have the same opportunity to “recognize this message as the very power of God.” Even polar opposites can be united through the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ because God *loves them all enough to save them.
NIV Romans 10:6 & 7 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
MSG Romans 10:6 & 7 But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story—no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah.
There are two points of Romans 10 for me; seeking righteousness … and finding faith. Verses 6 & 7 fill the gap in-between these two important points. I’ve read them before but apparently only as a convenient bridge from one big idea to the other without giving much thought to them in particular. That’s my alert to re-read them in another version like the Message. I want it all to be important.
Seeking righteouseness … and finding faith are big commitments. Commitments take work, and work involves time and effort. It’s pretty easy to forget in the midst of trying to live those big commitments, you can’t cross that gap without that bridge in place. It’s important to pay tribute with my words to what I see as the big ideas but I don’t want to miss the “main” point.
I want righteousness that comes from God √. I want faith that comes from God √. No matter how much time and effort I commit to those two big ideas can bridge the gap between them. No words I write can give life to a Messiah that can save me or anyone else. Not even my best success at seeking righteousness … and finding faith could rescue Jesus from the death he endured on my behalf to fill that gap.. It just can’t happen without the bridge. Thanks God!
Psalm 119:169-176 ת Taw – Sign, Branded Mark, “T”
169 May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word.
170 May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.
171 May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.
172 May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.
173 May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation,Lord, and your law gives me delight.
175 Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.
176 I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.
Today is the last post on Psalm 119. The first was on July 18. Each of those 74 days I’ve assumed these titles for the 22 sections, written in this way, were to be a meditative hint. The Psalmist has definitely saved the best for last.
He’s weathered the storms of life by hanging onto this; God is the only sure thing. That’s the high note of this final section. His emotions might not always be able to keep up with that confidence but he knows he can count on God to find a way to bridge that gap. That’s the basis of everything he asks as he ends this chapter and chooses this very special last title.
The ancient image of Taw is a type of “mark,” probably of two sticks crossed to mark a place and meaning “sign” and “signature.” The Psalmist has chosen to end his song of faith and survival with this signature that is the inspired sign of our future…the cross.
Click here for the sign.