1 Peter 1:3-13 (CSB)

“… set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:13b.

Most of the Christmas stories that we tell ourselves every year come from the first two chapters of Matthew’s Gospel and the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel.

Matthew records the story of the angel’s appearance to Joseph, the young couple’s travel to Bethlehem, Jesus’ birth, the visit of the wise men, the escape to Egypt, and Herod’s massacre of the children.

Luke tells us about the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Zechariah about the coming birth of John the Baptist. Then he records Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would give birth as well. Luke then tells us what happened when pregnant Mary visited pregnant Elizabeth. Then he records the birth of John, and Zechariah’s prophecy about him.

It isn’t until chapter two that Luke gets back to the story of Jesus. He explains why Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. He is also the only one who mentions the manger, and the only one who tells us about the angel’s announcement to the shepherds, and their visiting the baby Jesus in the manger.

Toward the end of Luke 2 there are two stories that take place when the infant Jesus is being dedicated. Two old people are featured in these stories. Simeon and Anna recognize who Jesus is when his parents bring him into the temple to be dedicated. These old saints were hoping for something. They were looking for something that Luke called “Israel’s consolation.” They recognized this infant Jesus as the key figure in God’s plan to save their people.

Over 60 years later, Peter pens the words of today’s text. He has lived the events described in the four Gospels. He wants to encourage the people who have put their hope in Jesus Christ for salvation. If I were to summarize what Peter says in chapter 1 of his epistle it would be this: “our hope is coming.”

our hope is coming because of what Christ has done for us.

Peter mentions “the sufferings of Christ” in verse 11. By now, everybody knows the story of the trial and crucifixion of our Savior, but nobody knows it better than Peter. He was there, sleeping in Gethsemane. He was there, denying his master. He didn’t understand it at the time, but now, he understands why Jesus had to suffer what he did, when he did.

Peter preached about Christ’s suffering in the early days after Pentecost. It was a major part of his gospel message. He taught that Christ’s suffering was not a mistake. It was part of God’s plan, and had been announced by his prophets.

Christ’s suffering on the cross were necessary. Without the cross humanity would have no hope. But because of what Jesus did on the cross, Peter can speak of the “glories that would follow (11).

Peter also mentions the “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” in verse 3. Christ had to do more than just suffer on the cross because the wages of sin is not suffering. The wages of sin is death. But if Jesus were to merely die for us, how would we know that his death has paid the price for our sins? That is why the resurrection of Jesus was essential to God’s plan. His resurrection is also essential to our hope. Because he lives, we too will live.

Paul called Jesus the firstfruits of those who are asleep. That imagery is a harvest imagery. The firstfruits is the first of the crop. When the firstfruits come in, people start celebrating, because there is now hope for a full crop. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, there is hope for us.

Paul even told us when we would be raised. He said “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23 NASB).

our hope is coming because of what our faith is doing in us

Peter not only tells us what Christ has done to give us hope, he goes on to explain what is going on right now in our lives to keep that hope alive until Jesus returns.

He says in verse 5 that we “are being guarded by God’s power through faith.” That word “guarded” suggests the picture of military protection while the battle ensues. The faith that God has given us keeps us in the interval between Christ’s first advent and his second advent.

That is why Peter can speak of his readers rejoicing during this time. He says in verse 6 “You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials.” Also, in verse 8, he says “though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice.” Joy is one of the manifestations of the Spirit’s presence – what Paul called the fruit of the Spirit. The joy that God has given us to express keeps our hope alive in this interval between Christ’s first advent and his second advent.

In verse 7, Peter talks about how our faith is being refined by fire in this present age. Faith is described as a precious metal, more valuable than gold. The tough times we go through test our faith, refining it so that it is even more pure.

In verse 9, Peter tells his readers that they are receiving the goal of their faith, the salvation of their souls. In verse 3, he calls this salvation a new birth. So, technically, he’s saying that we can be born-again, and not saved yet. You see, the salvation he is talking about is the permanent deliverance. We have not experienced that yet. That is why we need Jesus to return.

our hope is coming because Jesus Christ is going to return for another mission.

Just like Simeon and Anna, we who have trusted in Christ for our salvation are waiting for his advent. They waited for his first advent; we await his second advent.

They waited for him to come as a sacrifice, because he had a mission, and that mission was to die for our sins on the cross.

Check. That mission was accomplished.

Now, Peter says, Jesus has to return because he has another mission. There is “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for” us (4). We do not have that inheritance yet. In fact, our lives today are the exact opposite. We are living in perishable bodies, defiled by ongoing sin, and our lives are fading away.

Jesus said that our “reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:23). He did not mean that our reward is heaven when we die. Later on, in the book of Revelation, John records Jesus saying “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me” (Revelation 22:12). So our reward – what Peter calls our inheritance – is with Jesus in heaven right now, but we won’t get it until he returns.

Peter acknowledges this in verse 5 when he describes our coming inheritance as “a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” In essence, he is saying we “ain’t seen nothing yet.” Our salvation is secure, but it has not yet been revealed, because our savior has to come back for that.

Peter goes on to say in verses 6-7 that our present sufferings are turning our faith into something wonderful. We start out with the dross of condemnation, shame and dishonor, and the fire of our suffering is producing “praise, glory, and honor.” This result may not always be evident in our lives today, but it will be evident “at the revelation of Jesus Christ” – when he returns.

The Old Testament prophets usually talked about both advents as if they were going to happen at the same time. They didn’t know that there would be over two thousand years between what Peter calls in verse 11 “the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” His sufferings took place during his first advent, his glories began at his ascension and will continue into his second advent.

So, what is Peter saying for us today? In verse 13, he tells his readers to set their “hope completely on the grace to be brought to [them] at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” That is his message for us as well. Our hope is coming.

During the Advent season it is good to be Advent Christians. We can be grateful for all that God has done for us, and all he is now doing in us. But we can also be assured that the best is yet to come.