Is suffering a part of all human experience?
Most of the lesson thus far has focused on the progression of Peter’s first letter. This lesson is more topical, reviewing the death, resurrection, and blessed hope of Christians in the return of Jesus.
Suffering and Death of Jesus
1 Peter 1:18, 19; 2:24; 3:18 – This lesson takes us through several verses that speak of Jesus’ suffering on the cross. There is no question that crucifixion was one of the harshest forms of torture, usually lasting up to three days as the victim slowly died of asphyxiation. But Jesus wasn’t on the cross for 3 days; it was only hours. This doesn’t minimize the awfulness of the cross, but rather changes our focus to the suffering of Jesus in relation to bearing sin (see 3:18) where he takes our sin upon Himself and suffers God’s wrath—the separation of the sinner from the source of life. Jesus’ suffering and death show just how awful sin is, that the author of life would be put to death by his very creation, warped by selfishness. No wonder Jesus suffered as His vital connection with His father was severed, and His beloved people rejected him, again!
If Jesus death was less one of crucifixion than of separation from His father, why do Christians make the cross the symbol of Christianity? What does the fact that Jesus was “crucified” show us?
Resurrection of Jesus
1 Peter 1:3, 21; 3:18, 21 – Without the resurrection of Jesus, there is no hope for Christians (see 1 Corinthians 15), in fact Paul says we are to be pitied beyond all men if we only have this life to live. Jesus’ resurrection is the miracle of the New Testament most quickly and vociferously argued against by antagonists of Christian faith because it is so central. Death, the greatest enemy of mankind—of our life, our fellowship, our consciousness, etc.—was overturned. There is hope for life again.
How do you reconcile faith in the resurrection with science that cannot prove a resurrection is possible? What “evidence” might there be that life itself is a miracle to start with, and that resurrection isn’t any more implausible than life starting by the hand of a “designer”?
Ascension and Return of Jesus
1 Peter 1:5, 7, 13; 3:22; 5:1, 4 – Peter speaks of the future glory that is revealed when Christ returns. The closing verses of Luke and Acts 1 tells the story of Jesus’ ascension, and the promise that He would return in just the same way. Peter no doubt remembers this event in vivid color and a combination of fondness and hope mixed with sorrow as Jesus left His disciples waiting. Christians who continue telling the story and look for His return are “Adventists” in the truest sense. This return promises a change of nature for believers, and the joy of reunification with their Savior. The “glory” to be revealed isn’t just Jesus in all His brightness, but the glory that comes to each person remade in the image of Christ.
What do you feel when you envision the return of Jesus, when you picture that event in your mind? How can we keep the “blessed hope” alive during times of trial and suffering?
The suffering and death of Jesus portend times of difficulty for those who follow in His footsteps and identify with Him. However, the resurrection and ascension promise glory after the suffering. Jesus’ promise is that even through these experiences, He will never leave us or forsake us. Revelation promises that those who overcome will sit on His throne as He overcame and sat with His father on His throne. There is great joy ahead for those who persevere through trial and suffering of all kinds with faithfulness.