(This is part 2 in our series on 1 Peter; you can download the audio sermon for part one, here.)
1 Peter 1:1-3 “God is worthy of praise, because there is a purpose in our sufferings”
“Blessed is 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.” (1 Peter 1:3).
It’s easy to breeze past that first word – “Blessed.” We all kind of know what it means, but specifically, it means praiseworthy. It emphasizes the essence of God – He is the only one worthy of praise.
1 Peter contains so many phrases, explicit or implicit, that can be turned back to God and can fuel our praise– our blessing– of God. For example, blessed is the God who guards us for our salvation (1:5). And– let this sink in– blessed is the God who called us to be his very own possession (2:9). Throughout 1 Peter, if you are looking for it, you can see other examples like this one: blessed is the God who cares for us (5:7).
We easily notice the things that are appealing to us. Yet, there are other attributes of God that are, in our flesh, difficult to embrace. For example, blessed is the God who calls us to do good even if we suffer unjustly for it (2:19-21). Some things, we find distasteful and it seems the opposite of what we want to do. Peter tells us to honor everyone, even the emperor– Nero (2:17).
It’s easy to say, “God you are blessed – you are worthy to be praised – because you are the God who cares for us (5:7)”. What is more difficult is to say, “God you are praise-worthy – the only one who truly is – because you are the God who commands us to honor even an emperor like Nero.” But our obedience must be complete. Jesus tells us that our obedience will demonstrate our love to him (John 14:15). It was for obedience to Jesus that we were called (1 Peter 1:1-2). So we are to bless Him for all these things.
We are so thankful for the opportunity and privilege to serve our Lord and his people at our new church home. Easter Sunday is just our 4th Sunday here, but it feels like we’ve been here a lot longer than that; the loving and eager reception our family has been given is such a gift. Blessed is the God who calls to be unified and sympathetic, loving each other with tender hearts and humble minds (3:8)!
As you reflect on Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection this weekend, I would encourage you to see the joys and the trials in your life, through the lens of Christ’s lasting victory over death. I pray that you can praise God in the midst of your current trials – that’s what “Blessed be” means. Peter celebrates God the Father for his divine initiative in our lives. Peter also exhorts us to remember that sufferings and trials have a purpose.
In verses 6-7, he tells us that sufferings are necessary because our faith must be found genuine. If you stop to consider the logic for a moment, it helps make this even clearer. Christ is glorified in our lives when we endure trials well, relying on Him and following His example (1 Peter 2:19-23).
God is zealous for His glory. Jesus prays that He himself will be glorified in order that His Father will be glorified (John 17:1 ff). Consider the context Jesus is in. Remember? In just a few short hours he will endure: betrayal, injustice, loneliness and denials (by his own disciples), mockings, beatings and scourges, the most intense suffering and torture anyone has ever known, being forsaken by His Father as he bore our sins, and ultimately his death.
Jesus’ sufferings had a purpose – ultimately, to be our substitute. Peter says in chapter 2, verse 24 (citing Isaiah 53, emphasizing the fulfillment of the prophesies concerning the Messiah’s suffering), that Christ bore our sins so that we might live righteously (or, “rightly”). Jesus had to first suffer, so that later he would be glorified. His own prayers in John 17 show us, that it was not own His own glory that he was most concerned for, but rather His Father’s glory.
Bringing it back to Peter’s opening exclamation of worship and praise, he also teaches his readers (and us, by extension) that our sufferings have a purpose, in verses 6-7. They show our faith to be genuine – like gold that is refined by super-intense heat.*
Tomorrow morning, during Sunday School we will continue with verses 8-12, of the first chapter in 1 Peter, and examine:
- The connection between love, on the one hand, and joy & belief, on the other,
- The things we are saved from,
- And the four “agents” involved with the gospel message
Join us then or check back next weekend to see a summary of these verses and their lessons for us.
*For a short, 2-minute, video of the refining process click here. It is striking (and spiritually instructive) to see what a gold bar looks like before it is refined.