I have been enjoying the 2nd Quarter’s studies for 2017 in 1st and 2nd Peter. Week eight deals with “Jesus in the writings of Peter.” These are some comments copied from the study that I might keep for reference
- Jesus our Sacrifice
- The Passion of Jesus
Whatever the specific issues he’s addressing, Peter’s focus was on Jesus. Jesus permeates all that he writes; it’s the golden thread woven through the letter.
From the first line, where Peter says that he is an “apostle” (“one sent”) of Jesus Christ, until the last, when he writes, “Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus” (1 Pet. 5:14, NKJV), Jesus is his key theme. And in this epistle he talks about Jesus’ dying as our sacrifice. He talks about the great suffering that Jesus went through and uses Jesus’ example in that suffering as a model for us. He talks about the resurrection of Jesus and what it means to us. In addition, he talks about Jesus not only as the Messiah, the Christos, the “anointed one,” but about Jesus as the Divine Messiah. That is, we see in 1 Peter more evidence of the divine nature of Jesus. He was God Himself, who came into human flesh and who lived and died so that we can have the hope and promise of eternal life.
Jesus, Our Sacrifice
An overarching theme of the Bible, maybe even the overarching theme, is that of God’s work in saving fallen humanity. From the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis to the fall of Babylon in Revelation, Scripture in one way or another reveals the work of God in seeking to save “that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). And this theme is revealed in Peter’s letters, as well.
First Peter 1:18, 19 describes the significance of the death of Jesus this way: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” There are two key images in these words: redemption and animal sacrifice.
Redemption is used in the Bible in several ways. For example, the firstborn donkey (which could not be sacrificed) and the firstborn son (Exod. 34:19, 20) were redeemed by the sacrifice of a substitute lamb. Money could be used to buy back (redeem) items that had been sold because of poverty (Lev. 25:25, 26). Most important, a slave could be redeemed (Lev. 25:47-49). First Peter informs readers that the cost of buying them back (redeeming) from their “futile ways inherited from your fathers” (1 Pet. 1:18, RSV) was nothing less than the “precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish” (1 Pet. 1:19). The lamb image, of course, evokes the concept of animal sacrifice.
Peter thus likens Christ’s death to that of a sacrificial animal in the Hebrew Bible. A sinner brought a sheep without blemish to the sanctuary. The sinner then laid his hands on the animal (Lev. 4:32, 33). The animal was slaughtered, and some of its blood was smeared on the altar; the rest was poured at the base (Lev. 4:34). The death of the sacrificial animal provided “atonement” for the one who offered the sacrifice (Lev. 4:35). Peter is saying that Jesus died in our place and that His death redeemed us from our former lives and the doom that would otherwise be ours. The substitute sacrifice showed the Old Testament believer that he was utterly dependent on the Messiah to come for salvation.
The Passion of Christ
Christians often talk about “the passion of Christ.” The word passion … usually refers to what Jesus suffered in the final period of His life, beginning with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Peter, too, dwells on the theme of Christ’s suffering in those last days.
1 Peter 2:21-25 remind us what Jesus suffered on our behalf. There is particular significance to the suffering of Jesus. He bore “our sins in His own body on the tree [a reference to the cross; compare with Acts 5:30], that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24, NKJV). Sin brings death (Rom. 5:12). As sinners, we deserve to die. Yet, the perfect Jesus-who had no guile on His lips (1 Pet. 2:22)-died in our place. In that exchange, we have the plan of salvation.
Isaiah 53:1-12 predicted that Jesus would suffer as He worked out the plan of salvation in our behalf. What does this tell us about the character of God?