Strangers And Aliens (23a): Cross Now, Glory Later (1 Peter 5:6–11)

Peter invokes the Exodus deliberately. Throughout the epistle he has been trying to help his original readers in Asia Minor and us to understand where we are in the history of salvation. Perhaps the predominate imagery has come from Noah. We are like those waiting for the ark to be built, waiting for deliverance from the coming deluge of judgment. Here, however, he shifts the imagery to the exodus. We are the Israel of God, united by grace alone, through faith alone, to the risen Christ. We are in Egypt, as it were. We are believers, for whom God has sent the one greater than Moses. We are aliens and strangers in Egypt. We live under a Pharaoh who did not know Joseph (Ex 1:8). Like the Israelites, we are surrounded by pagans who misunderstand us and who sometimes abuse us. That is a hard providence. In order to submit to it and to the the sovereign Lord who ordained it, we must be assured that it is ordained for our good and his glory, even if we cannot see how it is all working out. Surely that was true of the Israelites? How often over the centuries of their captivity must they have wondered why Yahweh had ordained their captivity? Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (23b): Cross Now, Glory Later (1 Peter 5:6–11)

The Christians of Asia Minor were being tested under difficult circumstances. They were being challenged and even harassed because of their Christian faith. We know that some of them were slaves and faced the temptation of disobeying unjust masters. It is not difficult for us to imagine how Christians were regarded by a surrounding culture that was largely pagan because that is the world in which you and I now live. We know that the Christians were misunderstood as being arrogant because they refused to go along with established Greco-Roman religious worship. They could not acknowledge Caesar (just now, Nero) as a deity. Their worship was misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misrepresented. In the second century they were suspected of being a death cult because of their talk about Jesus’ death, of worshiping the cross—which would have provoked the Romans particularly to disgust—because of their theology of the cross. We know that later they were accused of cannibalism because of the Christian doctrine that, in the Lord’s Supper, by the mysterious operation of the Spirit, the risen Christ feeds believers with his body and blood. Beyond all this, doubtless they had or would soon have news of the lies told about the Christians by Caesar and their martyrdom at Caesar’s hands in Rome. Continue reading →