Summary: Having Joy based on the past, future, eternity, and now.
As we lead up to the Easter Season, I want to talk about one of the biggest paradox’s of the Christian faith. You know what a Paradox is, don’t you? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is something (such as a situation) that is made up of two opposite things and that seems impossible but is actually true or possible. Examples would be the phrase, “Killing someone with kindness.”
Well, the great paradox in the Christian faith is how we celebrate a Savior’s death. And what made this celebration possible, because that was a day of great agony and suffering, but rather, what happened 3 days later, when Jesus Christ rose again, victorious from the grave, giving us a reason to not fear death and to even look forward to the eternal life that lies in wait on the other side of death. This is why we can have faith at a funeral of a believer. This is why we can approach Easter with joy in our hearts, even as we grieve at what our Savior and Lord went through that we might be saved.
So over the next few weeks, I intend to talk about that great paradox of the Christian faith – having joy over the occasion of death. As we examine what Peter writes about the life and death of Jesus Christ, I hope that this Easter season we as individuals and as members of the body of Christ at Bethel can be reinvigorated and renewed with a fresh dose of joy provided to us by our Savior Jesus Christ! And that is exactly what today’s passage is talking about. Please turn to 1 Peter 1:3-5
1 Peter 1:3-5 – “Following with Joy”
3 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,
4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Look at that statement – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
I find it interesting and inspiring how Paul also begins his letters with this. He does the same things in 2 Corinthians 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
And again in Ephesians 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
Do you have people in your life that you almost hate to have conversations with? They’ve been through so much and they just seem to be always in the middle of the struggle, barely keeping their head above water? You almost hate to ask, “How are you doing,” because you’re afraid they’ll be honest!
Face it, we all have troubles. I don’t need to go on a long argument about why you and I have troubles. We do. That’s a fact. Enough said.
Some of us have more troubles at certain times than others. Some of us have different types of troubles. But let me tell you about a man named Peter. His life was full of troubles. He was just a poor fisherman who had his life changed by a carpenter who happened not only to be the Son of Man, but also the Son of God. He never had much money. He traveled all the time. He eventually would be persecuted and then executed. Jesus told Him that his life would be a life of hardship and problems, and it would end in death. In John 21, Jesus says to Peter,
18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go."
19(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, "Follow me."
And yet Peter had his eyes on the life, not on the death. His eyes were on the prize, the reward, the promise of eternal life with Jesus Christ.
You see, we get our eyes on our problems instead of our blessings sometimes, don’t they? We have people staying home from church on any given Sunday because they’ve stopped focusing in on their blessings and have decided to swim around in problems. But here’s the thing, problems won’t go away! We might get rid of them, only to get new problems again!