Summary: Sermon for the first Sunday in Lent, Year B
I Peter 3: 18 – 22 / To Bring You To God
Intro: 2 inexperienced hunters went hunting in the woods. The game warden had warning them that they might get lost said that if the got lost to shoot 3 shots in rapid succession. They did get lost. One said to the other, “You’d better fire 3 shots.” So he fired 3 shots. Nothing happened. About 1 hour later he fired another 3 shots. Still nothing happened. Finally, in great distress the 1st hunter turned to the 2nd hunter and said, “I guess you had better fire three more shots.” His friend said, “I can’t. I’ve run out of arrows.” (1001 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking, by Michael Hodgin, Pg. 213) --- I don’t think the hunters quite got the concept of what the game warden was trying to tell them.
I. The same can be said of this passage. It is quite difficult to get the concepts that are being set forth here because of difficulties with the language.
A. Vs. 18a for example reads differently in three Bible translations: NIV / NRSV / NKJV use differing words. Some use the word died while others use the word suffered. Some use the word you while others use the word us.
B. Vs. 19b speaks of Jesus preaching to “the spirits in prison.” Apostles’ Creed – “descended into hell” Could be those who lived previously / could be those who mocked Noah.
C. VS. 21 – speaks of baptism in relationship to cleansing and the water of the flood of Noah’s time.
II. A preacher came to the breakfast table with a cut on his cheek. His wife asked what had happened. He replied he was concentrating on his sermon while shaving and cut his face. His wife said, “Maybe you should concentrate on your shaving and cut your sermon.” (1001 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking, by Michael Hodgin, Pg. 321) – That’s what needs to be done with this passage. SO, I’m going to cut to verse 18.
A. “For Christ died (suffered) for sins once for all . . .” The word translated in the NIV as “died” can also be adequately translated as “suffered”. The word is πάσχω PASCHŌ. It means to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful), to feel passion, suffer or vex.
B. English – 1to submit to or be forced to endure, 2to undergo and experience, 3to put up with especially as inevitable or unavoidable, 4to allow by reason of indifference.
C. “I’m not afraid of dying; I just don’t want to suffer.” --- “I’m not opposed to giving something up for Lent; I just don’t want to suffer.”
III. “I’m not opposed to following Christ Jesus; I just don’t want to suffer.”
A. 2 kinds of suffering: 1) physical pain, 2) the pain of injustice.
B. Christ Jesus suffered both b/c of what he taught, what he believed, what he discerned to be God’s plan for his life. He suffered the injustice of physical pain b/c of what he taught & who he was. WHY? - VS. 18b – “To bring you to God.”
C. Christ Jesus suffered for us so that we could be brought to God. He suffered and died b/c he believed it was the only way. --- It is the suffering of Christ Jesus on the cross that brings us to God, not our own suffering. When we identify with the suffering of Christ upon the cross, then, and only then, do we truly come to God.
Conclu: In Scotland in the 1800s there lived a man of great promise and potential. He was engaged to be married. It was discovered that he had a degenerative eye disease which eventually left him blind. His fiancée refused to marry him and his world seemed to be falling apart. He could identify with the suffering of Christ Jesus on the cross and because of that, George Matheson wrote the hymn, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” We are going to sing that hymn and I want you to be intensely aware of how Mr. Matheson was brought to God through his identifying with the suffering Christ.