1 Peter 1:17-21
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
We just heard two men proclaim, “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Here it was Easter and they believed all hope was gone. They had put all their eggs in one basket, Jesus, to redeem Israel but he was dead. But these two on the Road to Emmaus were not the only two. Good Friday destroyed everyone’s hope in Jesus and left people asking, “Would God ever send a Savior?” “Is God even worth following anymore?” Does God have any idea what he is doing?” All of these questions were being asked on Easter because as far as these men were concerned there was no such thing as Easter.
With all that has happened to us, hope has spiraled into a dark abyss never to be seen again. Yes we do have our leaders talking about opening our community and country up at some point but do any of us have hope our lives will ever be the same? Who among us hasn’t wondered if God knows what he is doing? Is God ever going to save us? I am not sure God is worth following anymore. We too have placed all of our eggs in a one basket believing the LORD is God only to have our eggs cracked, smashed and scrambled over the past month. We had hoped but that seems so foolish now. My life is ruined. My hope is gone.
You know what is foolish? How foolish it is not to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Only after these two men on the way to Emmaus were able to see who the stranger that was walking with them was did they see their faith and hope in God was not misplaced. Easter gave these two men hope.
Saints of God, there is hope. Easter proves it. This is the message Peter wanted to convey to God’s people in our reading for this morning. Peter wrote these words at a time when God’s people were suffering. Not from covid-19 but from the virus of persecution coming from Rome and Nero. What was Peter message to God’s people? There is hope! There is hope for us as well.
One reason to have hope is we have a Father who judges impartially according to the work of each person. God does not play favorites. We hear this, “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” Who you are, your status or name will not get you into heaven. God doesn’t care what country you are from or the color of your skin. There is nothing you can do to have you be God’s favorite. Our Father is this impartial judge who isn’t swayed by popular opinion, bribery, looks or self-interests. Each of us are on an equal playing field. Each one of us are based upon one thing: our work. As an impartial judge, when each of us are judged only upon our work here is his findings: I find you lacking. I find your trust in me to provide for you lacking. I find your love shown to your neighbor to help and be a friend to them: lacking. My findings for respect and honor for government officials: lacking. My judgment is your righteousness cannot even surpass that of a pharisee. Not even close. There is nothing you can do for me to reconsider my judgment. I am an impartial judge who judges accordingly.
Am I missing something? How does our Father being an impartial judge, give us hope if all that he does is find our work lacking and there is nothing we can do to influence him to change his mind? Peter tells us, “18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. See the hope now? Silver and gold cannot influence or change the mind of our God and buy our way out of an empty life and into heaven. What is an empty life? We are learning what that means. We are all complaining about how empty our lives are right now. We cannot do anything. We are so bored. Life is no fun. Our lives have been emptied of meaning and purpose and fun. Have they really? I suppose if all that we have lived for was for pleasure, entertainment and work, then yes, our lives are going to seem empty. Maybe one of the things we are seeing in all of this is pleasure, entertainment, work do not bring any lasting fulfillment to our lives. All this stuff and philosophies leave us empty. It doesn’t satisfy. It eventually goes away and perishes.
But then this impartial judge comes to us and says, we have been delivered from this empty way of life with the precious blood of Christ. Since God is impartial this includes you and me. It includes everyone. Everyone has been bought back from an empty life and giving a most fulfilling life not with gold and silver but with the holy and precious blood of the lamb of God. With all that has been taken from you, your redemption from this life has not and will not. But not just this life but when your life is over. You have been bought back from death itself so that when death comes a calling it has no claim on you. You have already been bought. You belong to God.
Isn’t this just all wishful thinking? Like we have hope that things will get back to normal but that is all it is. Just hope. We can’t be sure. Our God knew we would have doubts that we have been redeemed from this empty way of life by the precious blood of the lamb so here is what he did: He proved our hope is not misplaced with Easter. Easter proves there is hope. Listen, 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Our lives may be crumbling around us. So much of what has been a part of our lives may be vanishing but there is hope. Our faith in God is not misplaced. Easter proves it. Easter proves the precious blood of Christ is our hope for redemption. This is why Peter so often spoke of Jesus’ resurrection. Once such example was in our reading for this morning from Acts. Peter speaks of Jesus being raised from the dead and then says all who believe in him receives forgiveness. Your faith and hope are in God. Your life is not empty. It is filled to the brim with the hope of forgiveness and life and salvation. Easter proves it.
Since we have this hope our lives will show it. You know what it is like going to stores, taking a walk, conversing with friends and neighbors. Hope is not a word I would use to describe what I see in people’s faces and actions. Dejection, frustration, uncertainty, confusion is what I see. Saints your hope and faith are in God. You are proclaimers of Christ’s resurrection. You know there is hope. Let your life show it. Peter encourages us, 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. Strangers. That is how we will live our lives. As strangers. If you are a stranger you don’t know the lay of the land or what to do. In other words do not live as the world lives. How strange it would be right now to live as people who have hope and not be so afraid to live. How strange it is to the world to not be motivated by guilt, obligation or wanting something in return. How strange it would be to forgo that last item on the shelf for the person behind you. How strange would it be to be content with life without sporting events to play and watch, or going to the movies or the mall or sitting down at Culvers. How strange it would be to live your life not in the way you think best but in reverent fear respect for what God has said in his word. How strange it would all be because living this kind of life requires hope. This is the hope you have been given. You have been given this hope that in the face of all this insanity you have an impartial judge who has redeemed you from all your doubts with the precious blood of his Son. Easter proves it, so live strange. Amen.