Summary: Jesus' resurrection proves that our hope in him will never flatline... (Sermon theme adapted from David DeWitt)
In spite of having the best regular season record in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks are lucky to be in the second round of the playoffs. They started out well enough against Chicago in the first round - winning three games in a row, but then Vancouver lost the next three and barely managed to win the deciding game in overtime. That win has resuscitated Vancouver’s hopes for a Stanley Cup championship. Will that hope be realized or crushed? Only time will tell.
If you’re not a Vancouver fan and could care less whether or not they win the Stanley Cup, what hopes are you nurturing? Hope for a hot summer? Hope for a better job? Hope for improved grades? You know as well as I do that these hopes might come to nothing. That would be disappointing but little else. The same can’t be said of our faith in Jesus. Our faith in Jesus is the hope that by believing in him we’ll have eternal life, that we’ll see loved ones again, and that our time spent here in worship hasn’t been a waste. Today the Apostle Peter assures us that faith in Jesus is a hope that will never flatline, for it’s a hope with an everlasting heartbeat. Let’s learn more.
Let me go back and talk about hockey for a minute. The Oilers didn’t make the playoffs again this year but fans have reasons to be optimistic for the future. Last year they had the very first pick in the draft and scooped up a player that should prove to be a star. This year they’ll get another first round pick. But even if the Oilers should find another Wayne Gretzky, how many Stanley Cups could he deliver before age and injury slow him down? Thankfully we don’t have that concern as “fans” of Christianity. Our star player died, yes, but he came back to life and lives forever. The Apostle Peter said in our text: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Our faith in Jesus is a hope with an everlasting heartbeat because it’s powered by the resurrection of Jesus. If death could not sideline Jesus, nothing can.
But should the Oilers win the Stanley Cup next year, how would it change your life? You might end up with a few more Oilers T-shirts but you won’t receive a Stanley Cup ring or bonus like the players would. Jesus’ victory over death, however, is good for us. Listen again to Peter: “In his great mercy he has given us new birth…into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 3:3a, 4). Jesus’ resurrection has given you an inheritance. And not just any inheritance but one that will never perish, spoil, or fade. Sure, you might like to inherit a million dollars from a rich uncle but how long would it take you to blow through that? The money would eventually run out and the things you purchased with it - mansions, yachts, and cars would eventually crumble beyond repairs. Our faith in Jesus, on the other hand, is a hope with an everlasting heartbeat. Nothing will be able to destroy our eternal life of happiness in heaven because there will be no chance of us falling into sin and ruining everything as Adam and Eve did in Eden. Nor will our joy fade because we’ll never become bored in heaven.
It sounds great doesn’t it? But how do we know for certain that we’ll make it to heaven to enjoy this inheritance? If our focus remains on the God of the Bible and his promises, we’ll make it. Peter put it this way: “[you] through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Have you seen the commercial where men from the 1930’s are watching a hockey game when one of the fans is hit square in the face with an errant puck and keels over like he’s been shot? The narrator then says something like: “Plexiglas. Another crowning achievement of Canadian inventors.” It’s true isn’t it? You would have to be pretty foolish to watch a professional hockey game at a rink where there is nothing shielding you from hard pucks travelling 100+ km an hour. Likewise Peter says that through faith in Jesus, God shields us with his power from anything that would disqualify us from enjoying the inheritance waiting for us in heaven. This power is a bit like Plexiglas. It might not seem substantial (because we can’t see it) but it will do the job. That’s what God has promised and faith stands behind that promise like a hockey fan standing behind Plexiglas so he doesn’t get hurt.