Sunday, April 28, 2024

Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Easter - Jn 16:5-15


Easter 5

                                                                                                 Jn 16:5-15



          Timothy, Matthew and Abigail will be coming home from college in two weeks.  We have been looking forward to this because we know that the occasions to have all of the family at home for an extended period of time are rapidly coming to an end.  This time next year, Timothy will be preparing to graduate and receive his commission as an officer in the U.S. Army.  And of course, when that happens he will be assigned to his first post and there won’t be any more summers at home.

          We knew that Timothy would be gone for part of the summer at Advanced Camp – the ROTC evaluation that takes place at Ft. Knox.  However, we were surprised to learn that because of two other Army opportunities, Timothy is basically going to be gone for the whole summer.  He will be at home for two weeks, and then we won’t see him the rest of the summer.

          This has brought home the realization that Timothy really will be leaving soon. He will start his own life and we won’t see him very often.  There is a sadness that accompanies this because we enjoy Timothy and like to have him at home.  On the other hand, we recognize that this is a good thing.  It’s the way life is supposed to work.  After all, we don’t want him living in our basement when he is thirty.

          In our Gospel lesson this morning, Jesus says that he is leaving.  He is returning to the Father.  This is something that brings sadness to the disciples.  However, our Lord shares that it is actually a good thing.  His departure means that he will send the Helper – the Holy Spirit.

          Our text is found in the same portion of John’s Gospel as we heard last week.  Jesus and his disciples are making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane on the evening of Maundy Thursday.  Our Lord shares words with the disciples that they really can’t understand yet.  He talks about what is going to happen in the future.

          In the verse just before our text Jesus said, “But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.”  Jesus talks about the future so that when those events happen, the disciples will remember that he told them it would be that way.  He hadn’t said these things in the past, but now a great change was about to occur.

          Jesus said, “But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.”  Our Lord announced that he was leaving – he was returning to the Father.  This fact filled the disciples with sorrow. After all, they didn’t want their Lord to leave them.

          Yet Jesus said that while this made them sad, it was actually a good thing. He said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” 

          Our Lord said it was necessary for him to depart so that the Helper – the Spirit – could come to them.  We do not receive an explanation about why this is the case.  We learn that this is simply the way God’s saving work unfolds.  Earlier in the Gospel Jesus said, Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Then John tells us, “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

          In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ glorification is his death, resurrection, and ascension.  Jesus revealed his glory during his ministry.  After Jesus turned water into wine John tells us, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” 

All of Jesus’ miracles point to the cross. They point to the work by which he would be glorified. During Holy Week Jesus said, The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Jesus died on the cross to free us from sin.  He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”  We were slaves to sin.  It held us in its power as we were cut off from God and under his judgment. 

Yet God sent his Son into the world in order take our sin and receive the judgement against it in our place.  John’s Gospel says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

However, Jesus’ glorification did not end at the cross.  John tells us about his entrance to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, “His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.” 

Jesus’ glorification continued as he rose from the dead. During Eastertide we celebrate the fact that our Lord defeated death in his resurrection.  Jesus said, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”  Jesus took it up again on Easter as he was then present with his disciples, demonstrating to them that he had risen has he had said.

But we learn in our text that this was not the end of Jesus’ glorification.  Instead, it continued as our Lord returned to the Father in the ascension. In the next chapter Jesus says, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” 

Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  John begins his Gospel by saying about the Son, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”  God sent his Son into the world to save us.  John tells us, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Now, as the One who is still true God and true man, Jesus has returned to the Father.  He has been glorified.  And he has done this in order to send the Helper.  His saving work continues in our midst through the Spirit.

Earlier in this section of the Gospel Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” 

The Spirit is the Spirit of truth.  He speaks God’s truth. And so Jesus says in our text: “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”  Jesus says the Spirit convicts the world concerning sin, “because they do not believe in me.”  Our world is a sinful place.  It believes it can do whatever it wants.  What it refuses to do is to believe in Jesus Christ.  One of the latest surveys indicates that 28% of American adults are “nones” – they have no religious affiliation and only vague beliefs about God if they believe in a god. The Spirit convicts this because to reject Jesus is to remain under God’s judgment.

          Jesus says that the Spirit convicts the world “concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer.”  Jesus Christ has completed his saving work in his resurrection and ascension and those who refuse him are condemned for his righteousness that they are rejecting.

          And our Lord says, “concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”  By his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has defeated the devil.  He said at beginning of Holy Week, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.”  The devil has been defeated.  All who reject Jesus Christ remain under the devil’s power and will share in his judgment.

          The Spirit convicts the world.  But the Spirit guides Christ’s believers into truth.  Jesus says in our text, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

          The Spirit takes what belongs to Jesus and makes it known to us.  The Spirit guides us into all truth because he gives us faith in Jesus who is the way, the truth, and the life.  The Spirit’s goal is always to point us to Jesus’s death and resurrection – to make this known to us – because through Jesus we have forgiveness and eternal life.

          In this same section of the Gospel Jesus said, But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”  The Spirit sent by Jesus from the Father bears witness about Christ.  And we now hear that witness from the apostles.  The apostles were with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry.  They saw his miracles.  They saw his death. And then they were transformed by Jesus’ resurrection.

          The Spirit has worked through the apostles to give us the witness about Jesus.  Our Lord says, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  The witness of John this morning is the witness worked by the Spirit.  It is the Helper taking what belongs to Jesus and making it known to us in order to give us forgiveness and life.







Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Mark's thoughts: The Law is good.


In the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the Colossians he says:

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful (Colossians 3:12-15)

 These words are law. They tell us what we are to do. 

We may wonder why Paul feels the need to say this to Christians.  After all he says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  He also says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).


In Baptism we have received the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.  God has created the new man in us, and we are children of God.  However, we are not only new man.  Paul tells the Galatians, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:17).  Until we die or Christ returns, we also still have the flesh – the fallen sinful nature present in us.  This old Adam resists God’s will and battles against the new man.


Because this is so, Paul tells us what we are to do.  He speaks law.  The Holy Spirit uses this law to do two things. First, the law teaches us how we are to live. We receive guidance in what a God pleasing life looks like – a life that is lived in Christ.  Second, the Spirit uses that law to repress and compel the old Adam.  Hearing this law helps to prevent the old Adam from controlling our actions.  In doing so, it assists the new man in his struggle against the old Adam.


We are new man in Christ, and so when we hear these words we also find in them a word of encouragement.  For the new man, the law is something he wants to hear.  Christians hear descriptions of God’s will in the law, and through the work of the Spirit they experience the response: “Yes, that’s exactly what I want to do!”


Paul’s intent in writing these words is not to show Christians that they are sinners.  However, Paul also says, “through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).  The Holy Spirit may use this word of law to reveal how we don’t do these things. In doing so he leads us to repent and take comfort in the forgiveness that we have through Christ.  This faith then prompts us to live according to these words.


The law is God’s good gift.  The Holy Spirit uses that law to address our spiritual needs.  He reveals our sin to lead us to forgiveness.  He teaches us how to live.  He represses and compels the old Adam to assist the new man in his struggle.  He encourages us to live in God pleasing ways.


Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Easter - Jn 16:16-22


Easter 4

                                                                                                Jn 16:16-22



          It was the night when Jesus was betrayed.  Our Lord celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples.  Then he and the disciples made their way to the Garden of Gethsemane.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not tell us anything about this trip.  However, John provides us with an account of what Jesus said to his disciples during this time.

          In John’s Gospel, Jesus often says things that the disciples don’t understand until after the resurrection.  For example, in chapter two Jesus replies to his opponents by saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews are baffled as they reply, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”  However, John tells us: “But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.”

          Earlier in this chapter, Jesus had shared unexpected news with the disciples.  He said, “But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.”  Our Lord said that he was returning to the Father.  He was leaving, and naturally this was very troubling for the disciples.

          We will hear in next week’s Gospel lesson that Jesus said his departure was actually a good thing.  It meant that he would send the Helper. In the course of these chapters, known as the “Farewell Discourse,” Jesus explains what the Helper would do.

          The disciples were already confused and troubled by what Jesus had said.  In our text, the Lord compounds this as he shares more information that they don’t understand.  Jesus said, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”

          The disciples were confused by this, as well as by what Jesus had already said.  We learn in our text: “So some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?’ So they were saying, ‘What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.’”

          Jesus knew that the disciples wanted to ask him.  He understood that they were deeply confused by his statement, “A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me.’” 

In our text Jesus doesn’t directly explain what the “little while” is.  Instead, he tells them what their experience will be as they pass through it.  He doesn’t directly explain it because, as we will see, there was no way that they could understand.  They had to experience the event itself, and in this way they would understand and be transformed.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.”  Our Lord described a time in which the disciples would be sorrowful. They would weep and lament.  By contrast, the world would rejoice.  However, Jesus promised that their sorrow would turn into joy.

In order to illustrate this, Jesus said, “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”  Labor is a time of hardship and difficulty – I am reminded of how Amy was in labor for 36 hours when she gave birth to Timothy.  However, when the baby has been born none of that matters.  Instead, there is joy that the child has been born into the world.

Jesus applied this illustration by saying, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”  The disciples would experience sorrow in the present when they did not see Jesus.  But they would see Jesus again. This would bring joy, and no one would take their joy from them.

The disciples in our text are mystified by what Jesus is saying.  However, we now stand in a position to understand what Jesus means, just as they would in a few days.  Our Lord speaks about his death and resurrection. A little while and they would no longer see Jesus.  It was Thursday evening.  By sundown on Friday they would no longer see the Lord.  He would be buried in a tomb.  But then in a little while they would see him again.  On Sunday evening – on Easter – they would see him as he appeared in the midst of the locked room where they were.

John the Baptist had announced that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Our Lord had repeatedly declared that he would die. He said that he would be lifted up.  He told Nicodemus, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” He said during Holy Week, Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.  And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  He said this because he would die on the cross.

          Jesus died as the sacrifice to rescue us from sin and God’s judgment against it.  Our lives are filled with the pervasive presence of sin.  We put God second, as our interests, hobbies, and desires come before him.  We act in selfish ways as we put ourselves before our spouse, family, and friends.  We allow anger to direct our words and actions.

          This sin is not a violation of some abstract standard.  Instead, it is an offense committed against the holy God.  When David confessed his sin he said, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.  As we just confessed, this sin deserves God’s present and eternal punishment.

          However, as we heard Jesus say last week: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  Jesus lay down his life for us in order to rescue us from sin and God’s judgment. Our Lord assures us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

          Jesus died and was buried.  For a little while his disciples did not see him. They wept and mourned.  The hope that they felt because of Jesus had been dashed.  And the world rejoiced.  His opponents celebrated the fact they had killed the Lord.

          But after a little while – on the third day – Jesus rose from the dead.  Jesus says in our text, “but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”  He was right.  We learn in John’s Gospel: “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.”

          Through the work of the Spirit the disciples have shared this good news – this Gospel - with us.  And now, we too rejoice with a joy that will never be taken from us.  Jesus’ resurrection has transformed our life.  Not only do we know that sin is forgiven, but we know that Christ has given us victory over death.  Because we believe in Jesus we already have eternal life now.  Death cannot end our life with God.  And we know that the risen Lord will raise us up.  Jesus said, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

          This does not mean that the struggles of this world have ended. We still encounter disappointments and problems.  We experience hardships and tragedies.  But because of Jesus’ resurrection we do not lose hope in the face of these things.  We do not lose hope because nothing can take the joy of the Lord’s resurrection from us.  His victory has changed our present and future. 

          In this section of the Gospel Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  We have peace because in Christ’s resurrection we find the assurance that God’s love for us continues no matter what circumstances may look like.  We live knowing that the victory will be ours because Jesus has already won. Our Lord declared, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

          Jesus’ death and resurrection also transforms the way we live. He said, This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  Christ gave himself for us, and now we give ourselves in service to others.  This means that we put the needs of others before our own. It means that we are willing to sacrifice to help those around us.

          This begins at home.  So husbands and wives, look for ways to assist and support your spouse. Children and youth, help your parents with tasks that need to be done – even when it isn’t your chore.  And then it continues out with our friends and co-workers.  Look for opportunities to support and care for the neighbors around you.

          In our text, Jesus says, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”  The disciples did not see Jesus after he had died on the cross and had been buried in the tomb. They wept and mourned.  But a little while passed, and on the third day they saw the risen Lord.  Because they did, we know that our sins are forgiven and that death has been defeated.  We have peace knowing that Jesus has overcome the world and confidence that God continues to love us in the midst of all circumstances. As our Lord says, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”












Sunday, April 14, 2024

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter - 1 Pt 2:21-25


Easter 3

                                                                                      1 Pt 2:21-25



          As many of you know, televangelist Joel Osteen is the author of the book, “Your Best Life Now.” Osteen’s basic message is that God wants to bless you and make you happy if you are faithful and trust him.  It has been a very successful message.  Osteen’s book was #1 on the New York Times best sellers list, and has sold eight million copies.

          If the truth of a theology were proven by the results it produced, then Osteen would be living proof that his theology is exactly right.  Because Osteen clearly is living his best life now.  He is conservatively estimated to be worth around $50 million dollars.  Osteen’s house is a 17,000 square foot mansion that cost $10.5 million dollars.  His church, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas has a weekly attendance of 45,000 people.  This is possible because the church – a former professional basketball stadium – holds almost 17,000 people.

          However, what you don’t find at Lakewood Church is a cross – it’s nowhere to be seen in the worship area.  And in this fact we find an indication that Osteen’s message is very different from what we hear from St. Peter this morning.  The apostle says that believing in Jesus and trusting in God does not spare us from suffering and hardship.  Instead, Jesus provides the model and pattern we are to follow in the midst of suffering.  However, we are blessed to walk in this way, because Christ is the One who died for our sins and has given us the living hope of the resurrection.

          Peter begins our text by saying, “For to this you have been called.”  To find out what we have been called to, we need to look back at the previous verses.  There Peter writes: “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”

          The apostle tells Christians who are slaves to obey their masters.  They are to do so, even when those masters are unjust – even when this involves suffering.  Peter says that when a Christian suffers unjustly and endures because of trust in God, this is a pleasing thing in God’s eyes.

          To endure unjust suffering. That is what Peter says is our calling.  He says this is so because of Jesus Christ. We hear in our text, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

          Now, of course, thankfully you and I aren’t slaves.  But before we think that we are somehow exempt from Peter’s words, we need to recognize that in the next chapter the apostle says to all Christians, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.”  And there, Peter provides the exact same reason as he writes, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous.” Peter may be talking to slaves in our text, but he shares a truth of the Chirstian life that applies to everyone.

          In this letter, Peter wants us first to know that God has called us to be his own.  Earlier in this chapter he said, But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

          God called you and made you his own.  He did it through his word.  Peter says, “you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” Through the water and Word of baptism the Holy Spirit gave you rebirth. He gave you new life as you became a child of God.

          God has called us to be his own. He has given us new life. And that means that now we seek to live according to God’s will.  Peter says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

          Yet living in God’s way is no guarantee that things are going to be easy.  Peter has just said that Christians may suffer unjustly even when they are doing what is right.  Beyond that, in this letter the apostle says that we will suffer because we are doing what is right.  He describes how those around us will revile us because of what is right.

          Our world today will let you do pretty much whatever you want.  People believe they have the personal freedom to act as they choose. What it won’t allow you to do is to express opinions that contradict the world. What happens if you tell your family member that living together outside of marriage is sinful? What happens if you say that homosexuality is sinful and wrong?  What happens if you say that men are men, and women and women? 

          And what happens if you say that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation?  To share Christ and the exclusive claims of the Christian faith often brings disdain in this world.  Peter speaks directly about this when he says, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

          Following Christ may mean suffering and hardship.  So why would anyone want to do so?  Why would anyone want to walk in those footsteps?  Peter says that it is because “Christ also suffered for you.”  The Chrisian life flows out of what Jesus Christ had done for us.

          Jesus, the Son of God, had no sin of his own. Peter says, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.”  The Father sent his Son into the world to carry out the mission of salvation for us. Jesus Christ was obedient to the Father’s will he as submitted himself to suffering on our behalf.  We hear in our text, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

          Jesus had no sins. But we do.  Peter says, “For you were straying like sheep.”  In thought, word, and deed we stray from God’s ways.  That is why Jesus went to the cross.  Peter tells us, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

          Jesus took our sins as his own. By his death he has freed us from sin.  Peter says that we have been ransomed “not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”  Christ suffered for us in order to win forgiveness.

          Jesus Christ died for us.  But that was not the end of God’s saving work in Christ. Peter begins this letter by saying, “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.”  On Easter, God raised Jesus. 

In Christ, God has conquered both sin and death.  Now he has exalted our Lord.  Peter says that the risen Christ is the One “who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.”  The Lord Jesus has ascended, and promised that he will return on the Last Day.

Those who believe in Jesus Christ may suffer for doing what is right; for believing what is right; and for saying what is right.  But Peter states this morning, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

We follow Christ, even when it involves suffering, because he has suffered for us in order to give us forgiveness.  He suffered and died, but that was not all.  Instead, in his resurrection he has given us hope.  We know that in Christ victory is ours because he has defeated death. We will share in his victory on the Last Day when the Lord raises us from the dead and gives us a share in his resurrection.

This future keeps us going.  It gives us confidence to face the challenges of living as a Christian in this world.  Peter says, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  We follow in Christ’s footsteps because we know where they lead.  They may involve suffering and difficulty now, but they lead to resurrection and life with God on the Last Day.