Trinity 5, 2016

 

The Epistle. 1 Peter 3:8-15a

The Gospel.  St. Luke 5:1-11

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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The Epistle reading that is assigned for today comes from the pen of St. Peter.  Peter is one of Jesus’ “inner three” of the 12 Apostles.  (Peter James and John)

 

He is sometimes even considered the leader of the Apostles.  This is most likely because of his personality in taking the initiative many times in situations… and speaking for the group at times.

 

Boldly confessing that Jesus is the Christ and there that they have no where else to go anyway since Jesus has the words of Eternal Life.

 

He follows Jesus at a distance at the time of Jesus’ arrest.  He is caught by inquirers and then driven to great despair and humiliation over his three-time denial of even knowing Jesus.

 

And at the other end of the spectrum, Jesus restores him after the Resurrection by telling him three times in different ways…to love and care for Jesus’ sheep…His lambs.

 

Peter swings wildly at times from one extreme to another and is very relatable to many of us who have the same reactions and emotions to certain events.

 

His erratic behavior seems to have taken a drastic turn for the better, however when we read his Epistles.

 

It’s almost hard to read the Gospel accounts of him and then read his Epistles and believe it's the same person sometimes. 

 

His writing shows a much more seasoned, levelheaded, thoughtful man, who is carefully writing to a people about future persecution.  He can speak firsthand about this and is the right person to do so.

 

He is writing his Epistle to encourage persecuted Christians and exhorting them to stand fast in the faith. 

 

To do this, he repeatedly throughout his letters turns their minds to the joys and glories of their eternal inheritance that awaits them if they do stand fast and endure suffering.

 

For example: “ 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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV)

 

He is very positive and encouraging to his readers. 

 

Over the last 200 years or so, as modern liberal critics have studied his two letters, they have concluded or at least have strong beliefs that his writing is too polished to be that writing of an ignorant uneducated Galilean fisherman.

 

Therefore, they conclude, it’s not him writing.

 

The fact that his writing is polished on the other hand might just be a result of the fact that He has been forever changed and strengthened by first seeing His Master, the Lord Jesus die and then come to life again…and the Sprit of Christ is now so indwelling him that he is inspired like never before to write down all that he has seen and heard….and knows to be true…and he is excited to share it.

 

That might just have an impact on some people.  Not all, but maybe some.

 

We also believe that there is about a 30-year gap since his walk with Jesus and the writing of his Epistles. 

 

“Peter wrote this letter to prepare Christians for a ‘fiery trial’ of persecution, yet his approach was optimistic and positive.

‘Prepare for the best!’ was his message.”[1]

 

Here is his message as he begins today. 

 

“Finally, all of you have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9 ESV)

 

This is Peter’s advice or admonition or even command to us as Christians.  There probably is no specific order here, but he begins with us having UNITY OF MIND.

 

God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of one mind.  This is the model that is set for us.  Let us strive to be unified in mind.

 

 

This does not mean that there cannot be differences of opinion and different personalities and, but it does mean that there must be a unity about Christ.

 

Peter is saying, “…that we should be single-minded in our understanding of the person and work of Christ. We can—and must—be united in our confession of the essentials of the Christian faith, but there is plenty of room for differences in lesser matters.”[2]

 

Paul tells us that “…if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”

 

 

 

 

So there is to be unity of mind amongst ourselves about how we treat one another but there is the overarching unity of mind over the person of Christ.

 

We might say, we are all here for the same reason.  Hopefully.  We are all here to grow closer to Christ, closer like Christ, to receive the gifts of His sanctifying Spirit and to attain everlasting life.  This is done only one way and through only one person.  The Lord Jesus Christ.

 

There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all.  There must be unity of mind in this.  We cannot compromise.

 

Sympathy.  He just adds that word.  Why sympathy?  To be sympathetic is to bear one another’s burdens.  We must share not only in one another’s joys, but in their burdens as well.

 

 

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.[3]

 

There are others here as well.  Brotherly love.  Which points back to the first one.  A tender heart.  A humble mind.

 

Commentator: “…the thought is that, in the church, there should be a certain shared tenderness. Tenderness is the opposite of roughness. The word Peter uses does not describe a physical touch but a visceral one, something that comes from the deepest chamber of our hearts. We know what it means to be kind, and we all have known people who manifest a remarkable degree of kindness. When we recognize someone as being kind, we are recognizing a tender heart—not a hardened, mean, thoughtless heart.”[4]

 

 

And a humble mind is putting others before ourselves.

 

Then he says, do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling.

This is very much a call to imitate Christ.  Who better to look to for resisting repaying evil for evil than Christ Himself? 

 

What happens at His arrest?    “…behold, one of those who were with Jesus [Peter] stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. ‘Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?’” (Matthew 26:51-53 ESV)

 

So here, evil was upon our Lord in the Garden.  But He did not call upon the Father to send counter measures.

On the cross…not just sitting in the Temple teaching or walking down the road….but while nailed to the cross, “…Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

(Luke 23:34 ESV)

 

      “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

            yet he opened not his mouth;

      like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

            so he opened not his mouth.”

      (Isaiah 53:7 ESV)

 

There is true restraint borne from a heart of pure love.

 

And this command comes with a promise for us…or an assurance for us.  When the evil comes, and the reviling comes…or the family hostility comes…or the friend or co-worker’s abandonment or betrayal comes, here is what Jesus says.

He doesn't say that if you do this, restrain from repayment, all will be ok. Or those who heap evil upon you will back down or apologize.  They may do that in due time.

 

He simply says, “…for to this you were called…that you may obtain a blessing.  What were we called to here?

 

Were we called to not render evil for evil?

Or were we called to suffer the evil?

The answer is, yes.  We were called to both.

 

The call of God.  The effectual call of God upon making us His children includes…bestows upon us an almost immediate status of being hated.

 

Becoming a Christian as the New Birth comes upon us means that we are now set apart from rendering evil…but the world around us remains so.

 

 

We are called to bless rather than curse, though the world around us may not comprehend such “weakness.”

 

Calvin writes, “…though it is commonly thought that it is an instance of a weak and abject mind, not to avenge injuries, yet it is counted before God as the highest magnanimity.”[5]

 

The highest thing to do in the eyes of God is live out our calling to bless rather than curse….bless when cursed, or forsaken or hated.

 

Over and over Jesus as well as Paul tell us that we are to pray for those who persecute us…in any way.  Pray for them. 

 

The hardest thing to do it seems.

 

But this is laying up treasure in heaven. 

Sproul - “The New Testament calls us repeatedly to a heavenly perspective. We are not to forget the inheritance laid up for us in heaven. The incentive here is that when we return good for evil and blessings for cursing, we stockpile an inheritance of blessing.”[6]

 

Jesus told peter that day when they were out fishing and they catch a huge draught of fish, “…Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” (Luke 5:10 ESV)

 

So we need not be afraid either.  We refrain from evil and instead we return it with blessing.  This is just one of the ways in which God uses us so that we also might be fishers of men.

 

May they see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven.

 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.



[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 411). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Sproul, R. C. (2011). 1-2 Peter (p. 98). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ro 12:15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (2011). 1-2 Peter (p. 101). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

[5] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (p. 102). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (2011). 1-2 Peter (p. 103). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.