Summary: Sermon 13 in a study in 1 & 2 Peter
“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.”
In the HBO mini-series “Band of Brothers”, which tells the story of Easy Company of the Airborne Rangers during WWII, there is a scene in which a young soldier tells one of his lieutenants that he is so frightened that he freezes into inaction in a battle situation. The lieutenant’s counsel to him is that he should reckon himself dead. He tells the soldier the only way to make it through is to just forget about ever going home and consider himself dead already.
Now that may sound cynical. But there is wisdom in it. In the story of the Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, Frodo Baggins has accepted his role as the only one who can successfully carry the one evil ring to the mountain of Mordor and destroy it by dropping it into the molten lava.
The farther into his journey he goes and with each form of resistance he encounters, he becomes more and more convinced that this is a one way trip for him. He is certain that he will never see his home in the Shire again and his entire focus becomes centered on accomplishing his task.
SUFFERING IN THE FLESH
What incentive could be more compelling, what conviction could be more focus-sharpening, than the belief that there is nothing to go back to, indeed no possibility of going back, and the only available and open path is the one that lies ahead, and that it must be taken whatever is to be found around the next bend?
Isn’t this the picture we get of the Lord’s Christ in the Messianic prophesy of Isaiah 50 when he writes:
“I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting. For the Lord GOD helps Me, therefore, I am not disgraced; therefore, I have set My face like flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.” (vs 6-7)
And in Luke’s Gospel we find; “When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem” (Lk 9:51) The word Luke used there that the NASB translates ‘determined’ means to ‘fix’, or to ‘steadfastly set’. He was going to Jerusalem with full knowledge of what would happen there and He would not be turned to the left or the right.
You may remember that in the account of the transfiguration on the mountain we were told that He was discussing with Moses and Elijah the departure He was going to ‘accomplish’ at Jerusalem. This was His task to perform and He was the one in full control; no one else.
In Peter’s statements previous to this - the reason he once again begins with the word, ‘therefore’ - he has established that Christ won the ultimate victory on the cross of Calvary.
He died, says Peter, once for all so that He might take us to God, and then He went to the most evil of the demonic spirits that rebelled in Heaven and then attempted to corrupt the God-ordained provision of marriage and through that the future generations of mankind, spirits now kept in prison awaiting their destruction, and He proclaimed to them His triumph over death and the grave and Satan and evil for all time and eternity, through going down into death to set men free from sin.
Peter then draws that thought to a conclusion by announcing that as a result of that victory Christ has been granted a place at the right hand of the Father, far above all angels and spiritual authorities and powers.
Jesus Himself said this to His disciples after His resurrection when He commissioned them to spread the Gospel. He began with, “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth” Matt 28:18