Summary: Submission and redemption in 1 Peter
The Third Sunday After Easter, 2001
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
The entire first epistle of Peter is an exhortation to fully share in the sufferings of Christ. Or maybe, more correctly, to rejoice in sharing the suffering of Christ.
This morning’s Epistle reading, however, is the beginning of an extensive section on authority and submission.
Superficially, it seems out of place in a message about sharing Christ’s suffering but, as we look more closely, we begin to see that only Jesus’ submission to the will of his father, and the suffering which ensued made our redemption possible, and this correlation between submission and redemption is echoed throughout the remainder of Peter’s letter.
In our Gospel reading, Jesus has made the wonderful illustration of a woman in her travail. Her suffering in Labor is replaced with the joy for her newborn child. Note, her suffering was not replaced with joy, but the very cause of her suffering has become her cause for joy. In the same way, our submission our travail and labor will lead to the great joy of life transfigured and of the redemptive witness that Peter tells us it will have on the world.
Submission is not a terribly popular topic of discussion today, in fact, it seems rather archaic. Today, society tells us to know our rights and make sure everyone else knows them too.
We have the right to disregard traditional Christian moral teachings, we have the right to abandon traditional Christian family values and today in America, we even have the right.yes the RIGHT to kill a child before it is born.
And, should any narrow minded, bigoted and backwards religious fanatic infringe on our rights - we have the government, popular opinion, statistical studies and the American Civil Liberties Union to ensure that they are persecuted, harassed, litigated and legislated into accepting every abomination known to mankind as an praiseworthy exercise of individual rights.
On the night before he was crucified for us, Our Lord prayed in the garden of Gethsemane "Oh my Father, if this cup cannot pass away from me unless I drink it, your will be done".
Our Lord has given us the perfect example of submission.
He knew what was to come, he also knew that he had to submit in order to redeem fallen and sinful man.
Later Jesus tells Peter "Do you think I cannot pray to my Father and he will provide me with more than twelve legions of angels".
You see, There was no point in the passion of Our Lord that he could not have chosen to exercise his own will to enforce his own rights with celestial power.
But to redeem mankind he submitted to the will of his Father even to the point of crucifixion and death.
Peter is telling us to grab hold of this example and to follow it.
Yes, pitiful fallen creatures that we are, we can exercise our own wills. And yes, we could up to a point enforce our rights. But peter is telling us that we are to act as foreigners and sojourners in a strange land and instead of participating in a struggle for our own wills and rights we are to participate in the suffering of Christ and thus, to cooperate in the redemption of mankind.
We do this by submitting. Not to our flesh, or intellect or whims but to the will of God. And we can thus become, in the words of the Apostle Paul, "Children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!