I Peter 1:17-21
Scripture Reading: Psalm 28:1,2,6-8
Several weeks ago, I watched a new film that is coming out in the end of February. The title of the film is “The Passion of the Christ.” It depicts the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus. It begins in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was praying that the ordeal he was about to undergo would be removed from Him. It moves through the trial, the scourging and the crucifixion of Christ and ends with the understanding that He has risen from the dead. The focus of the movie is to show what Jesus has done for us. It is a tremendous movie and had a powerful impact on me. It made me realize the amazing gift that Christ gave me in order to free me from my sin.
The daily necessities of life - what will I eat, where will I eat, how did I sleep, how is my health, what is there in life that I can enjoy - take up much of our life and energy. From time to time, we need to remind ourselves of what is really at the heart of things for us personally and, indeed, what is at the heart of all of human history.
This morning, I would like to remind you about Jesus, about what He has done and about the price he paid so that we could be forgiven and be given life. The thoughts I would like to share come from I Peter 1:17-21. Let us read it.
I. God’s Plan
When we moved to Rosenort, we bought a house which had sustained some damage in the 1997 flood. The upstairs was fine, but the basement was a shambles. There was lumber standing around, wires hanging from the ceiling and we even found the skeleton of a frog. It looked bad, but we had a plan - we would clean it, rebuild it and make it a nice useable basement. In a few weeks, from now, we are anticipating the installation of carpet that will signal the completion of the project. Over the last three years, we have slowly but surely rebuilt that basement so that very soon the plan will be finished.
God had a plan. His plan was formed even before the world became a shambles because of sin. Piece by piece, over thousands of years, God has brought about his plan.
The plan was created, as it says in verse 20, before the foundation of the world. God knew before he created the world that it would be destroyed by sin. Before the world was even created, he already chose Jesus to be the one who would restore the world which had been destroyed.
For thousands of years, God worked in the world moving ever closer to the fulfillment of that plan. He chose one nation through which he would draw people to himself and through whom he would work to bring people to himself. Finally, after many years, Jesus came into the world as a little child, lived among us and experienced all the things that we experience. Then he began to make himself known. He taught, healed and in this way demonstrated the power, holiness and love of God.
Finally, he was put to death, but, as we know, he did not stay dead. We read on in this passage that God raised him from the dead and glorified him.
It is such a joy, each Easter, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. After the focus on his death on Good Friday, it is wonderful to allow the realization that He is alive to wash over us. It is a true celebration. But we miss something if we stop at the celebration of resurrection. We must go on to also celebrate the glorification of Jesus. This is often missed because we don’t usually take a holiday to celebrate the ascension. We don’t take time to realize that Jesus has been glorified by being placed on a throne in heaven, at the right hand of the Father. We don’t emphasize the wonder of the truth that the same Jesus who experienced life in the very world we inhabit and was brutally put to death, is right now the eternal ruler of the universe and is waiting for the day when He will return to close the chapter of life on earth. He has been glorified and is ready to show His glory to the entire universe when he returns to judge the living and the dead and to bring home all those who are his own. This is the plan of God which He has carried out in our world.
II. The Plan Is A Costly Redemption
At the center of this plan is a costly redemption. The thing which I would like to focus on above all today is the phrase in the text which says, “you were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ.”
A. You Were Redeemed
The first thing we need to note is that we were redeemed. The word redemption communicates the idea of being freed from a desperate situation. How do we understand redemption. At the time when this was written, it was not unusual for someone to pay for a slave to be set free. This was referred to as redeeming the slave. In the Old Testament, if one of your relatives got in trouble and couldn’t pay his debts, you could pay the debt for him and he would work for you. This was also called redemption. In each case, someone else pays a price to free someone from a desperate situation.
What is the desperate situation which Peter talks about? He says you were redeemed from the “empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers.” Have you seen the signs which proclaim, “If you’re not recycling, your throwing it all away.” It is talking about things that can be useful again, that can be taken from the uselessness of the garbage dump and can be made useful again if they are recycled. This passage tells us that apart from Christ, we are doomed to emptiness. We are like the garbage which will simply be thrown away and rot. But Christ has redeemed us from this empty way of life. He has given us meaning and purpose in life instead of the emptiness which exists apart from Him.
One example of a life redeemed from emptiness is that of Donna Rice. Her name hit the tabloids in a highly publicized sexual scandal with former Colorado senator Gary Hart. In the aftermath, Hart's bid for the 1988 Democratic nomination was trashed and so was Rice's reputation. Rice disappeared from the public eye, but she's back--passionately committed to God and to "Enough is Enough," a Christian organization fighting to keep pornography out of the hands of minors.
Thankful for the support of her family, friends, and her Christian husband, Jack Hughes, Rice is most thankful for God's work in her life: "God loves us, but he doesn't grant us immunity from the consequences of our choices. However, when we mess up, if we ask his forgiveness, he'll redeem those choices, using our mistakes as a 'door of hope' for other people (Hosea 2:14-15). I have great empathy for victims of sexual abuse and pornography. God has brought purpose to my pain."
B. With The Precious Blood Of Christ
When we redeem something, it usually has a cost attached to it. For a slave to be redeemed from slavery cost someone the price of the value of a slave. What is the cost of our redemption?
The cost of our redemption was not paid for with money or precious metals, not even all the money in the world. The value of most everything today is converted to its worth in money. A sports personalities value is measured by how much money he earns. A piece of art or an antique is valued by how much it sells for at auction. Recently Arthur Black has been trying to sell his media empire and its value is also determined by money. How much money would define the value of redemption from an empty way of life? There is not enough money in the world to purchase this prize.
Under the Old Testament system, every worshiper had to bring his own lamb to redeem his life from God’s judgement. If he had no lamb, he had to buy a lamb. He could not borrow a lamb. No one could give him a lamb. He had to provide his own lamb. This passage tells us that the cost of our redemption was also a lamb. But it was no ordinary lamb, it was the lamb of God. It was not a lamb which we provided, but which God provided.
The purchase price of our redemption was the precious blood of Christ. It cost the life of the lamb of God. Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jeffrey Ebert writes, “When I was 5 years old, before factory-installed seat belts and automobile air bags, my family was driving home at night on a two-lane country road. I was sitting on my mother's lap when another car, driven by a drunk driver, swerved into our lane and hit us head-on. I don't have any memory of the collision. I do recall the fear and confusion I felt as I saw myself literally covered with blood from head to toe.
Then I learned that the blood wasn't mine at all, but my mother's. In that split second when the two headlights glared into her eyes, she instinctively pulled me closer to her chest and curled her body around mine. It was her body that slammed against the dashboard, her head that shattered the windshield. She took the impact of the collision so that I wouldn't have to. It took extensive surgery for my mother to recover from her injuries.
In a similar, but infinitely more significant way, Jesus Christ took the impact for our sin, and his blood now permanently covers our lives. -- Jeffrey Ebert
The value of that price is multiplied greatly when we realize the precious nature of the lamb. He is identified as the “lamb without blemish or defect.” That is why Jesus could give his life for us. Had he had a blemish himself or been marred by a defect, his life would not have been worth enough to purchase our redemption. Because He was the lamb without blemish, the man who never sinned, his blood was worth enough so that His death on the cross was sufficient to purchase our redemption.
Take a look at Jesus. Examine the cost! Examine the sacrifice! See that this great sacrifice was made for you and for me.
Such a gift requires a response. The first is to believe. Verse 21 says, “through Him you believe in God.” By faith in Jesus, the redemption he has purchased makes it possible for us to be cleansed. All we need to do is believe in Him.
However, and this is the main point of the passage, if we have been redeemed from an empty life, the gift of Jesus means that we can now live in a new way and in gratitude for the great gift given to us, we must walk in a new way. God, who has redeemed us by the blood of Jesus is our Father. Recognizing our Father, requires that we live in a new way, we live as strangers in the world, and members of the new kingdom.
As we think about Jesus, the response of faith and the response of following are obvious responses. How important then to focus on Jesus. I invite you to think about Jesus and remember Him and all He has done.
As we participate in the Lord’s supper, think about the precious price paid so that you could be forgiven.
We are delighted to share the Lord’s supper with you. As we do, we are invited to remember Jesus.
In I Corinthians 11:23-26 we read:
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
First of all, we will partake of the bread in order to remember Jesus whose body was broken for us.
Let us give thanks.
Remember Jesus whose body was broken for us.
Now let us partake of the cup as we remember that Jesus blood was shed for us in order to establish a new relationship with Him.
Let us give thanks.
Partake of the cup.