Redeemed – Imperishable!

“Redeemed – Imperishable!”

1 Peter 1:17-23 – April 23, 2023

            Have you ever heard children or young people bicker? Argue back and forth? I can remember listening to my own children argue, getting mad at each other, and slamming the door or stomping out of the room. And, even sometimes being really mean to each other in front of their friends or other family members!

            In our Bible reading from 1 Peter today, the apostle tells us to “love each other from the heart.” This loving attitude from Peter is not what siblings or friends often show to each other. What a shocking or sad difference it makes when siblings, or friends – or when you or I – say mean things or act badly towards each other. I thought 1 Peter chapter 1 tells us to “love each other from the heart!” ALL the time! Except, it just doesn’t happen in the real world.

            I would like to remind us all about this epistle written to scattered believers throughout modern-day Turkey. This little letter at the end of the New Testament came several decades after the events of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Many of the people who were actual witnesses of the resurrected Lord Jesus had themselves died. These were actual eye-witnesses. They knew beyond a reasonable doubt, they understood with all of their hearts that they were indeed redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, as the apostle affirms here in our reading today.

As I said last week, the local governments and authorities were cracking down on anything that looked like rebellion or conflict against the accepted status quo. The situation throughout the whole region was, frankly, dangerous for these new believers! Yet, they kept on spreading the witness of the Resurrection, telling others that the Lord Jesus had redeemed them! And that you can be redeemed, too!

 But, what do you and I need to be redeemed from?

You, and I, and the rest of the world, all have a big problem – the sin problem.

We are not perfect, and we all make mistakes. We fall flat on our faces, sometimes, and we can say mean things to each other, act badly towards each other, and even hurt each other. Lots of people try really hard to make themselves pure, to strive as hard as they can to live right, to keep to the straight and narrow, to run as hard as they can or as fast as possible to get right with God. But, they trip up or fall behind, or miss the mark – again and again.

Can you relate? Do you know what I am talking about? Do you see people running on these endless, hopeless hamster wheels, spinning their wheels of striving? Trying to build a ladder to heaven to get to God? It just doesn’t work. We – on our own – cannot do it.        

What does 1 Peter 1 say about this huge problem? How can we solve it?  

Quick answer? We fallible, faulty humans never can make it to heaven on our own.

The apostle tells his readers they must be born again, just like the conversation with Jesus in John chapter 3. Like Nicodemus thought in John 3, we could talk about being born again, or think about being born from above. Except, I want to focus on verses 18 and 19 where the apostle says we “were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors” “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

The apostle Peter was brought up in a Jewish home, and he – like the other disciples understood the system of sacrifice in the Temple. Everyone sinned, and everyone needed to make sacrifices in the Temple so that God would forgive their sins. Especially at Passover time, a lamb without blemish was slain as a sacrifice for the sins of each person or family. I don’t know if we all understand all this today, but the apostle tells us right here that our sins – yours and mine – are taken care of, once for all. Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, the one without sin, died on the cross for our sins. All of our sins.

And, it is finished. Our debt of imperfection and sinfulness before God is cleared away.

 Some people understand redemption and salvation in different ways. Yes, Jesus Christ is the perfect Lamb of God who died on the cross for you and me. Yes, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, so that we believers in Him can rise, too! Yes, the blood of Jesus Christ redeems us, and “has redemptive power to liberate Christians from their pasts, making it possible for them to live a radically transformed existence. This transformation had already been inaugurated when they were born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” [1]

We do not need to sacrifice endless animals over and over simply to be good enough, clean enough, able to approach God. No! Easter is so much more than just a single day at the end of Passion Week. Because of what Jesus Christ has done, “weeks [and months] after Easter Sunday, we are still talking about Jesus. We should still be talking about those events. It’s that important to our faith. This passage tells us that our faith and hope are in God.” [2]

             Which brings us back full circle to the command we started with: the apostle tells us to “love each other from the heart.”When we come to believe in Jesus, believe in salvation and redemption, we don’t believe with just our heads, or with just our intellect. We also believe in our hearts. 1 Peter chapter 1 says to “love each other from the heart.” Can you see how our minds, feelings and actions are all rolled into one? That’s all of what Jesus redeemed!

            So – we are to love one another with our hearts, minds and actions. That is what we are commanded to do here, by the apostle. This is truly a way to make the Resurrection part of your life and mine, today.

We can ask God to bring us opportunities this week to show God’s love – in all ways – to others we encounter. This is how we can have a true, Godly love for one another, loving each other with all our hearts, minds and actions. Are we ready?

Alleluia, amen.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. #PursuePEACE – and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks!


[1] https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/third-sunday-of-easter/commentary-on-1-peter-117-23-5

[2] https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship-planning/a-living-hope/third-sunday-of-easter-year-a-lectionary-planning-notes/third-sunday-of-easter-year-a-childrens-message

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