Begotten Unto A Lively Hope

1 Peter 1:3-9

 

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

 

These are the first direct words of the epistle, following as they do immediately the salutation. While they are distinctly autobiographical, they are expressed in the plural number, which associates others with him, namely the apostles of Christ.  These are words written, to such as were then passing through trial, so that he spoke to them almost immediately of the manifold temptations through which they were passing. verse 6 and in verse 7 we read:

7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:  

 

In a letter to a people in such circumstances, we are at once arrested by the initial outburst of praise:

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

 

 In these words we have Peter's own account of what the resurrection of Christ had meant for him and the other disciples.  But this is the narrowest application of our text this morning,  But in proportion as we understand and appreciate it, we shall be prepared for the wider application.

 

I repeat, Peter was writing out of a personal experience.  Perhaps he was thinking of that first meeting with Jesus, and the marvelous influence he felt as the Lord looked into his eyes and said:

     Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone¾  John 1:42 

 

 Perhaps he further thought how he had yielded himself to that wonderful personality, and courageously followed Christ.   He may have thought of the weeks, and the months of following the Master, the dreams, the revelations,  and finally the darkness, that settled over him and the others at the sight of the cross.

 

And then, somewhere, we know not where , the risen Lord found Peter all alone and talked to him.   In our text he expresses the feelings that came over him:

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

 

 This morning let us consider first of all Peter's experience of Christ, before and after the resurrection, secondly the difference the resurrection made,  Such a mediation will serve to reveal to us the true value of that glorious event, which we celebrated along with His death as we gathered around the Lord's table this morning.

 

First the experience before the resurrection,

We confine our attention to Peter the man who wrote the words of our text , we need not  dwell on the earliest  incidents to which I have already quickly made reference to, but to incidents occurring only in the last months of our Lord's ministry.  In the earliest days and months of our Lord's ministry, He was the center of attraction to all sorts  and conditions of  men.. I spoke a few weeks ago,  how in the gospel narratives  there is revealed a very strange sifting process which went on from the beginning of that public ministry:  Gradually men and women who had irresistibly attracted to Him withdrew, and I am almost prepared to say that they were driven away from Him by the very severity of  His terms.

 

Our theme is not that of the attractive, or the repelling power of Jesus, but it is important that we remind ourselves of it. At the commencement of His public ministry, multitudes crowded after Him. At the close of His life's mission, not a single man stood by His side. This is expressed in the words we read in awe,  "They all forsook Him and fled." I remind you, these words refer to His own disciples.

 

 In our study of the life of Christ as revealed in the gospels,  we become impressed with the fact that in about  2 ½ years this hostility became more and more definite, until men were plotting to silence His voice, to take His life,  They were seen to be working together to spread a net to capture and destroy His life.

 

Let us listen to three things that Peter said in  that shadowed period of time. In these sayings, I think we shall be brought face to face with Peter's experience of the Lord.  As the result of all that training, all the teaching, and the experiences  of that ministry.  Peter said three things not to be undervalued, and for the moment I simply state them without dwelling long on them.

 

The first is recorded in the gospel of John chapter 6, Where Jesus has a confrontation with the Jews. I begin reading in verse

28Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. 30They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? 31Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

 

Jesus declares Himself to be the "bread of life", offending many and in that hour of profound teaching many drifted away from Him so at last He asked the disciples:  Will ye also go away?  Then Peter spoke " Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.   —This was Peter's first great confession—

 

 A little further on so far as one is able to follow  these events chronologically, perhaps 2-3 months later, we have that very familiar scene at Caesarea Philippi.  Where Jesus had gathered the disciples away from the multitudes, and questioned them:  Matthew 16:13-16

13When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist:  some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

 

Next as far as time is concerned, perhaps immediately or within the next few hours, for Matthew links the two, we read Matthew 16:21

21From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

 

This time no confession but a voice of rebuke and anger   for the Greek word means to mete out,  to censure, or what is due. “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee

 

II- In these three saying of Peter all uttered within the space of three months, Peter reveals his experience of Christ.

 

 First "Thou hast the words of eternal life".

 

Again the occasion was that of  gathering hostility as Christ attempted to direct the attention of the crowds from the material miracle of the feeding of the great multitudes  to the spiritual suggestiveness thereof.  Many that  were offended at His hard sayings were the very disciples   John 6:60-61

60Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

 

And then continuing in verse 66¾  the rest of the story¾

66From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67Then said Jesus unto the twelve,  Will ye also go away?

 

That is do you wish also to leave? Jesus is giving them the opportunity to do so. There was in the question a note of severity.

68Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

 

This was a remarkable reply.   That we might be able to get back into the actual atmosphere, think of the statement for a moment, not from a 21 century standpoint but from a Hebrew in expectation of  the coming One.  It is only as we do, that we shall appreciate the mental outlook of the man who spoke them.

 

In this statement Peter declared his conviction that the teachings of Jesus was authoritative and life abiding,  eternal.  Moses had foretold of  a Prophet which should arise, we read in Deut. 18:15

15The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

 

In other words I find in that statement a confession of his deepest conviction, in Thee we have found the Prophet for Whom we have long been waiting.   And Peter would later quote this prophecy recorded in Acts 3:22-23

22For Moses truly said unto the fathers,  A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

 

¾Thou Art That Great Prophet ¾

"thou hast the words of eternal life."

 

III-  We pass quickly  a few months, and we hear the challenge of Jesus.   But whom say ye that I the Son of Man AM?

 

This question was answered again by Peter, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. "  Once again that we could get back into the atmosphere of that time and listen to the actual words as they fell from the lips of Peter.

 

 What was the idea Hebrew idea of  Messiahship?  It was that of kingship.  In the 2nd Psalm we find the Old Testament idea

Psalm 2:1-6

1Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?   2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.  6Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

3- The Hebrews were looking for a king to sit upon the throne of David their father. And Peter looking into the eyes of Jesus said,  "Thou art the Messiah."  Thou art the great King we look for, the Son of David.

 

Thus Peter saw Jesus, not only as the Prophet  for Whom men had long been waiting , speaking words of ultimate authority….. “23And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people”.    He saw Him also as the King for Whom men had long been waiting, holding in His hand the scepter of authority.  He had discovered in Jesus the King to Whom all the prophets had given witness.   This meant that his heart was full of hope, hope for the establishment of  the Kingdom, the restoration of Israel to honor.  Hope that the kingdom would be soon established.

 

Immediately we pass to the third word of Peter.  This was uttered following the two confessions.

 

The confession of Peter "Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God."  Followed by Christ own words:

Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  19And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven:

 

In these words of Christ there flamed before Peter the glory of the established order.   But the gospel records are careful to record that after this Christ began to show that He must suffer and die.  Jesus began to show the disciples these things.  and it was in this light that Peter uttered his passionate word of protest.   "Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee."  If we put ourselves in the place of Peter we shall understand more perfectly his protest. He took Jesus aside and began to rebuke  or to chide Him . "Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee."

 

In this moment his hope was overshadowed. If you are going to Jerusalem to die, what of the great Prophet, with age abiding words?  If the Teacher dies, the words will be dead!   If we read the story carefully and chronologically, so far as we can see, Peter never came close to the Lord again.. Hope died until we finally read "they all forsook Him and fled"  There at last He hung on the cross.. and there He bled and died.

 

Hear the words of the doxology again:  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”,

 

The text tells its own story, but we mediate upon it to determine the difference the resurrection made.  Remember the darkness of those days to thee disciples. The King dead, therefore the teaching void.. .. the King dead, therefore the kingdom impossible.

 

Then came the morning of strange news. "Certain  women.. came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive."   I never read that without feeling that these men did not quite believe the story.  But then somewhere,  not recorded where, Jesus found Peter… and when the two arrived from Emmaus eager to tell the story of how Jesus had appeared to them on the road they  "33….found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34Saying,  The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

 

When or where we do not know…. Paul as he was massing the evidences of the resurrection of Jesus, in 1 Corinthians 15  refers to it, but gives no detail.  Somewhere the Lord met with Peter

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

 

It was the dawning of a new day a rebirth of hope. The resurrection began its work at that point. Peter had before discovered in Christ the great Prophet.  He had seen in Him the great King.   The Cross had filled him with fear, but in that moment when he witnessed the Risen Lord, the Cross was transfigured. He now sees the Lord wearing the grab of a Great High Priest.

 

The Cross is now seen as the propitiatory, the place of the High Priest, there was the altar , the sacrifice, and the Priest. And there sin was dealt with.

 

Before Peter was very far into his epistle he wrote these words: 1 Peter 1:18-20

18Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

 

 Go back to the other side of the Resurrection and stand with Peter.    Death?  "Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee."  That is defeat….. Come to this side of the resurrection and look back….   The cross ….. It now flames with a new light… for it was there that God took sin and canceled it  in a great mystery of pain that can only be expressed in human history only by the blood of Christ, on the Cross.  By way of the Cross forgiveness.

 

A few days later Peter would see and hear Jesus as He uttered

18All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

 

4- The King is indeed alive and is exercising His will ..KING OF Kings and LORD  of Lords. The Great Prophet after the order of Melchisedec,  and He is Coming Again.

 

 contact:: Ron Cope minister

email:  RonCope@chestnutmtchurchofchrist.com

phone:  (678)617-9658