Tuesday 05 September 2017

Bible Book:
1 Peter

“Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.” (v. 13)

1 Peter 1:13-25 Tuesday 5 September 2017

Psalm: Psalm 73:15-28


Jewish Christians in the 1st century were convinced that Jesus,the Messiah, had come to establish a renewed, reformed and purifiedJudaism, as hoped for by prophets of the Old Testament Hebrewscriptures. So, for them, the phrase "for it is written" (v. 16)had a particular significance. Jews believed themselves to be thecalled, or chosen people, and the prophets emphasised that thismeant they were called to be "holy" (a quote from Leviticus 11:44-45), both in the sense of pureand also set apart for God's service. And, for them, the time ofwaiting for the risen Christ to be revealed in his power and glorywas like the earlier Jewish exile in Babylon, 500 years before. Forthem, the Roman empire was their 'Babylon'. But whereas the faithof their ancestors was fatally flawed - they were ignorant of thetruth and their sacrifices were futile, so were never trulyreleased from moral and spiritual exile - their new-found faith inthe risen Christ, the perfect sacrifice, promised them a gloriousfuture, as God had always intended. Their "exile" would come to anend, but until then they must live lives of moral purity, "inreverent fear" (v. 17) of God's judgement.

The writer of this letter doesn't just draw on the HebrewScriptures for inspiration - there are hints here too of thewritings of John, with references to Jesus as the "lamb" (v. 19),and to "love one another" (v. 22) and being "born anew" (v. 23)(and maybe also some hints of Paul). But his main source is theprophets of the Old Testament, and our passage ends with a longquotation from Isaiah 40 (one of many from Isaiah), reminding hisreaders again of the "good news" (gospel) they had received, whichassured them that their faith in the risen Christ gave them hopefor a new, and better, life.

To Ponder

  • For his first Jewish followers the resurrection of Jesus markedthe beginning of the Messianic age and anticipated the imminent'End' when God would finally judge the earth and rescue and renewIsrael. It had nothing to do with Jesus being divine, for example.What does the idea of the resurrection of Jesus mean to you?
  • There are two ways of looking at Jesus: forwards, through the'lens' of the Old Testament (Jesus is the human Jewish Messiahushering in 'the End'), or backwards, through the 'lens' of laterChristian doctrine (Jesus is the divine Son of God who givesauthority to the Church). Which, for you, has more meaning?Why?
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