Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
The book of 1st Peter begins with this exclamation of worship: Blessed be God! He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The season of Easter focuses on the events that happened just after Jesus was raised from the dead, and those events are marked with a growing excitement. As Jesus’ followers experience him alive again, they worship, they praise, they go and proclaim. They were all fired up for Jesus before his death. Then they fled and deserted him. Now, they start to get that fire back. This statement of praise erupts from that Easter joy: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
And then it says, “By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”
When Jesus is raised from the dead, he overcomes death and all its concomitant effects, and when your life is joined to Jesus, then you too go from death to new life.
Brothers and sisters, you have been raised with Christ and now you have a new life. Rejoice!
But it also says that this new life is part of something yet to come. It says, “…into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, we are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Christ is risen. Alleluia! It is finished. It is complete. Jesus has won the victory. And when your life is joined to Jesus, you are raised up. You have a new life of forgiveness, joy, and hope. It is yours, right now.
And yet, it says, “for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Peter is assuring the Christians that their inheritance of new life is a sure thing. They can bank on it. Would-n’t you like to have a sure thing? If you just knew for sure which stocks were going to go up, you could in-vest your money and buy everything you ever wanted. If you got a check in the mail for 100 million dollars, and you knew for sure that it would clear the bank, you could go out right now and buy that new car.
Your new life in Jesus is a sure thing. So you can live free. You don’t have to save up good works or God’s grace for a rainy day—go out to love and serve and do the work of God unhindered.
In this we rejoice. This is the overall theme of the season of Easter—rejoicing. We sing joyful songs and we shout Alleluia! because we rejoice.
It says, “In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials.”
Christian rejoicing is not rejoicing because everything is great. It is rejoicing even if we have to suffer various trials.
As a church, we are facing a trial right now. We are separated, we cannot congregate, we don’t know what the future will bring, and our life of faith is disrupted. As a society we are facing a trial right now. We have a pandemic disease and economic crises, and we don’t know when it will end.
So what does the Bible say to do when you face trials and times of difficulty? It says…Rejoice! Rejoice, even when things look bad, because you have salvation as an inheritance, and it is secure in heaven. Not even this time of trial can take that salvation and new life away from you.
This does not mean that we gloss over those various trials. We are not in denial about the suffering that we face, or the suffering that is happening around us. Christian joy is fake when we try to manufacture a happy face and pretend everything is good. Of all people, Christians should be the most honest about pain and suffering.
But even in the midst of trials, suffering, uncertainty, and even in the midst of death, we rejoice. We rejoice in the Lord always.
But what is most important is not whether you appear joyful or gloomy. What is important is the genuineness of your faith. The Bible says that we rejoice “so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold, that though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
The most important thing is the genuineness of your faith—to be genuinely faithful to the Lord. And genuine faith is not something that you can do. Genuine faith comes through Jesus. Faith that is genuine is faith that is received from the Lord.
We will face trials, but those trials test our faith and purify it, so that the result is praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ is revealed.
So, during this season of Easter, let us focus on that genuine faith that Jesus gives by his resurrection. Let us rejoice not because we think we have to, but rather because we genuinely believe that our new life is secure in God.
1 Peter 1:1-9