Summary: First-person type narrative (Simon Peter's perspective, no acting or costumes needed) exploring: Why did Jesus die? What did He do while He was dead? What is He doing now that He is alive?
RIGHTEOUS FOR THE UNRIGHTEOUS
Simon Peter walked through the streets of Jerusalem with purpose. He had a place to get to and not a lot of time to get there. It had been his suggestion that the believers meet in the temple courts daily to pray, listen to reflections about Jesus, and to reach out to the poor. It had been his suggestion and he had already been late once. He laughed. Jesus had never been late and had never wasted one moment while He was with them.
Simon Peter rounded a corner and could see the temple gates ahead of him. His paced slowed a little as his goal was in sight. He was sure the others had already gathered. Peter started up the steps of the outer courts and suddenly a young man of about twenty stepped in his path.
“Forgive me,” Peter said, “I am lost in my thoughts.”
“I would like to speak with you,” the young man said. “I have some questions about Jesus of Nazareth. Do you have time to speak with me?”
Clearly the young man had been waiting for him and stepped in his path on purpose. Peter looked past the young man into the temple courts. They would all be waiting. He looked back at the young man and realized that Almighty God had already set his appointment for the day and it was the young man standing in front of him.
“I do. Let us sit.”
Simon Peter and the young man made their way to a seating area and the young man started to describe himself to Peter. He shared how he had heard the story about Jesus of Nazareth and His death. He had heard about His followers and the Way that was growing up around His teachings. “I even stopped by last week and listened to the teachings you all shared in the temple court. I think the man said his name was Andrew and he explained all about Jesus of Nazareth. I still have some questions.”
“Well,” Simon Peter responded, “I walked and talked with Jesus and so there is no better person to help answer your questions. I will prayerfully answer your questions as God gives me wisdom and discernment.”
“I have three questions based on what I heard. My first question is, ‘Why did Jesus die?’ My second question is ‘What did Jesus do while He was dead?’ My third question is ‘What did Jesus do now that He is alive?’”
Peter’s eyes grew large. All three of those were great questions. Peter looked with compassion on this young man. He wanted to answer with gentleness and respect. “Those are most excellent questions. The fact that you are asking them tells me that God is drawing your heart to Jesus. Well, let’s take each question in turn and I will answer as best I can. Those are great questions and I can imagine writing the answers down for others who have the same questions in the future.”
I. WHY DID JESUS DIE? (VERSE 18a)
READ 1 PETER 3:18a
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
Let me explain a little deeper what I mean by that.
The answer as to why Jesus died comes from one of the most basic laws of existence. Sin, or wrong doing, has to be paid for. It has always been that way and not a lot of people realize that. You remember in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned? An animal was killed to provide skins for them to wear to cover the shame they felt. Sin means something dies to pay for it and again… it has been that way from the beginning. God Almighty is gracious and merciful and allowed a substitute death to cover sins.
Later on in the Scriptures we see God the Father set up a system of sacrifices which allowed His chosen people to roll back the guilt of their sin. Those sacrifices were allowed to be a bandage on sin. The blood of bulls and goats and other animals really does not pay for wrongdoing because the ones who are guilty are us! You are guilty. I am guilty. The people of Israel were an example on the earth of human beings separated from God, but working towards restoration with God. Our whole society was set up that we might understand Jesus of Nazareth when He arrived.
Now I hope you are not offended that I am saying you are a sinner… that you do wrong. If you and I are honest with ourselves, we understand that we all have sinned and fall short of being perfect and short of the standard God has for us. A sin is lying. A sin is anger growing into bitterness. A sin is envy. A sin is anything our conscience tells us is wrong. That sin has to be made up somehow in us and between us and God. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to pay for my sin! The price is my soul! I am glad in God Almighty’s gracious nature He allows for substitutionary death to pay for sins.