Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 46: Holy Saturday - 1 Peter 3: 18-22

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Peter is saying in essence, Yes you are suffering but He suffered also. So don't lose hope. Let the truth that follows about the suffering of Christ serve to encourage you.

He who was perfect Righteousness willingly suffered for totally unrighteous men. Obviously, believers can never suffer the way He did (for His was redemptive suffering), but we can suffer for righteousness because He suffered and brought us into the kingdom of light which automatically puts the believer in contact with the kingdom of darkness. Remember that Peter's intent in this section is to help believers arm themselves (1Pe 4:1) with the faith to suffer for the sake of Christ and His kingdom.

Christianity in America is the exception not the rule. For example, evangelical missionaries entered Cambodia in the 1920's but were expelled in 1965 at which time there were by best estimates only about 600 believers. However from 1965-1975 civil war ravaged Cambodia and yet during that time the Christian population soared to an estimated 90,000, clearly indicative of the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to spread and convert the lost. It was an amazing work of God. But when the Khmer Rouge took control and Pol Pot unleashed his maniacal fury on the nation, most of the believers in Christ were either martyred or fled the country. Surely the truths of Peter's first epistle helped them arm themselves for suffering even as their Lord suffered.

The message of the cross and empty tomb reminds us that the powers of sin, death and the devil himself have been defeated. Nothing can separate you from the Savior’s presence and purpose in your life. We live in Him, we live for Him, we abide in Him. Even if we must suffer for Him we remain in Him for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)

O God, creator of heaven and earth, grant that as the crucified body of Your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on the Sabbath, so we may await with Him the coming of the third day, and rise with Him to newness of life, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS used by permission for private and congregational use
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved
Collect for Holy Saturday - Lutheran Service Book © 2008 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

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