3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, I Peter 1:3-4
Brother Peter is my favorite on Jesus’ A-Team, though that’s hardly fair because what do we really know about Thaddaeus? I surely can relate to Peter’s fumbling and bumbling and naïve enthusiasm. My spirit is sincerely willing but my flesh is pathetically puny. He asked Jesus to help him walk on the water, but even while he was safely traipsing atop the sea, the threatening waves made him afraid. Then there was the triple rooster debacle…
But Brother Pete surely came around and left us some fine reading for reflection. In his first letter to believers he writes, “According to His (God’s) great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Now that’s a mouthful, if you ask me. A living hope. I love that, don’t you. A living hope.
But before we ponder that profound phrase, let’s look at the reason for his hope: Jesus’ resurrection. What do you think transformed Peter from a sniveling scardy-cat into a strong tower? Jesus’ coming back from the grave. Peter saw the pharisees brutalize and hang his Lord. His dead body was prepared for, then placed in a tomb, sealed with a boulder. Then three days later He’s back, dining with the disciples in the upper room. That was surely a game-changer. Earlier Peter had said, “You are the Christ,” but when times got tough, his head knowledge wasn’t enough to give him undaunted faith and backbone. But Jesus’ resurrection transformed him. His living appearance gave Peter living hope.
Let’s muse a moment on that phrase, consulting Merriam-Webster.
living - having life; currently active or being used; full of vigor; suited for living; not dead
hope - to cherish a desire with anticipation; to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment; to expect with confidence
When we merge the words we get “currently active hope that’s being used; vigorous expectation with confidence; to expect a desire with anticipation.”
That starts to sound awfully close to Brother Matthew’s gospel, chapter 21 verse 22, doesn’t it? If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. And John 15:7: If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt 7:7-8) But remember the reminder from Brother James: But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6-8
Jesus’ resurrection was real. He was dead, dead and came alive, showing Himself to several.
He promised that after He went to His Father, the Helper would come to live inside us. He told us not to worry – to cast our cares in Him – and that anything we ask according to His will He hears us and will grant us. (I John 5:14-15) That should give you hope, saints. Living hope. Vigorous hope. The ability to cherish a desire with anticipation. Expectation with confidence. Why? Because He arose. And because He said so.
So tell me, where is your hope on life-support? Is there something you’ve been diligently seeking that just doesn’t seem will ever come to pass? Is it something you’re sure is the Lord’s will, like a wayward child, a broken relationship, or your toppling temple?
Now I know Brother Peter is referring to our hope for eternal life – that imperishable, undefiled, ultimate hope. But I truly believe God wants His children to trust Him this side of the heavenlies too. Didn’t Brother Paul say that without faith it is impossible to please God? (Heb 11:6) That faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not yet seen? (Heb 11:1) We can be assured He wasn’t just referring to heaven because look at the examples He used in other passages? Sister Sarah desperately wanting a baby. Moses defying the king of Egypt and freeing his tribe from slavery. “For he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” (Heb 11:27) Can you see God working in your life even though He’s invisible? Even those fickle Israelites wanted to trust God – have a living, active, vigorous faith – but their courage kept crumbling. Though they were forced to take the not-so-scenic route, they ultimately arrived in the promised land.
Where is your trust is teetering? Where do you hear yourself whining and complaining like the Israelites, “I hate this manna!” When do you feel depressed and defeated? Is it your tired temple? You commit and recommit to eating well and moving often but you consistently get derailed? Well saints, welcome to this world of trials, tests and tribulation. But just like Peter was ultimately transformed into a man of stable, unflinching faith, so, too, can you. But you must keep your eyes on the prize of the upward call of Christ Jesus. According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
May I tell you a true story? Hershel “Woody” Williams is one of the few living Medal of Honor recipients for his heroism as a World War II marine at Iwo Jima, an island just 2 ½ miles in diameter. When his entire unit had been decimated after just a few days, the commanding officer asked if there was any way the remaining flamethrowers could destroy the enemy’s reinforced concrete holes, called pillboxes, that had already proven invincible in other attacks. Woody said, “I’ll see what I can do.” Covered by just four marines shooting at the front of the pillbox to distract those inside, Woody walked right into enemy fire with his flamethrower. You can read the full story at Living Hope.docx. But here’s the point. When Chris Wallace from Fox News Sunday interviewed Woody, he asked, “Weren’t you scared?” He said, “To say I wasn’t scared would be the biggest lie ever told. But you have to think victoriously.”
Wow. There’s a lesson for us all. And it’s the lesson of which Brother Peter reminds us. We can think victoriously because Jesus rose from the dead. Because according to His great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We can walk right into enemy fire, claiming Isaiah 43:1-3: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Stand firm on a fervent hope by focusing on your Father. Pray every day: Thank You, Lord, that you are transforming me into a new creation. Because of Your great love, my hope is not consumed. Your love for me never fails. It is new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness. Create in me a clean heart – a living, undaunted faith in You. For You are the Christ, the risen One.