By Mike Hess
“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” (1 Peter 1:3, ESV).
While packing for our move to the Chicago suburbs, my wife and I came across several old cell phones that we don’t need or use anymore. In fact, their technology is obsolete. It’s amazing to think that at one time they were considered state of the art. Now they’re nothing more than antiques. Old news. Prospects for the next episode of American Pickers. Much like your old VCRs and Walkmans. They have no use for us today.
But no truly born-again believer who has been raised to walk in newness of life through faith in the crucified and resurrected Son of God could ever honestly say that he does not need to be reminded of the Resurrection. The first chapter of the book of 1 Peter reminds us of the relevance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Especially for those enduring difficult trials.
While writing to a group of first century Christians under incredible amounts of persecution and pressure from a Christ-rejecting world, Peter drew his readers’ attention back to the connection between the Resurrection and the trials they were facing. In this Easter season, I’d like us to consider three truths that connect the Resurrection to your present situation. No matter what you may be facing.
The Resurrection Guarantees Your Future Inheritance (1:3–5)
The Resurrection validates your present assurance and provokes you to focus on your future inheritance in Christ, an inheritance that cannot be stolen or diminished in value. In times of despair we have hope. The word hope is closely connected with the idea of expectations. Circumstances tempt us to fall into despair. When we see what the enemy is doing to families, churches, friendships; when loved ones suffer and people disappoint us; when we go through financial hardships, the resurrection of Christ points us to an inheritance that will eternally satisfy. Knowing there’s a glorious future keeps us from falling into despair in the present. Peter’s original audience did not believe in an allegorical, mystical, or merely spiritual resurrection of Jesus. Their hope was tied to what our hope is tied to—the literal, physical, bodily resurrection of the Son of God. That’s why our hope is a “living hope.”
The Resurrection Strengthens You in Trials (1:6–7)
Rejoice is a word Peter communicated often. But notice that he didn’t just tell his readers to rejoice. He told them why they should rejoice. He wanted his readers to see the purifying effect that trials would have in their lives. We learn here that the Resurrection gives us two benefits to suffering:
- A stronger faith
- Praise and glory at the return of Christ with His saints
Much of how we respond to life is how we interpret our circumstances. It’s easy to misinterpret our sufferings, to think that God is punishing us or is mad at us or loves us less. But Scripture teaches that it’s through loss that we value our gain in Christ. Through pain we learn to treasure God’s comfort. Through death we learn to cling to the promise of the Resurrection. Just as metal is purified through the refinement process, believers are refined through trials. God never puts you through suffering and trials for the sake of seeing you in pain; there’s always a greater purpose. And that purpose is to make you more like Christ.
The Resurrection Fills You with Unspeakable Joy (1:8–9)
Undoubtedly Peter would have loved for his early readers to have witnessed what he saw in roughly three years of ministry with Jesus. Peter pointed out that even though they hadn’t seen Jesus physically, they were still united with Him and that all the benefits of being in Christ were theirs. The result of that is joy!
Salvation in this passage involves the total person. One day, your whole body will be resurrected at the Rapture of the church. The runner has the finish line. Baseball players play for the last out. Football, basketball, and hockey all look to the game clock. The student looks to graduation day. But the Christian aims to one day hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
This hope is anchored in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This truth teaches you that your trials only last for a “little while.” Let’s be reminded—like our first century brethren were—that the prize, the trophy, the crown, and ultimate reward is Jesus Himself.
Mike Hess is national representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.