These men and women were living in a world where persecution was real and sore and painful, and Peter’s theme is suffering and glory, in his first letter to the churches.
He knows how to enable men and women to overcome the consequences of sin.
Here is a fisherman, who is now conquering territory and winning lives, for Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. A miracle had taken place in this man’s life.
He is writing to ordinary people, to Jews and Gentiles, who are finding life rough and tough.
Jesus does turn this man inside out. He speaks about people exiled in the dispersion. They were Jews who had been taken away and settled elsewhere.
Today, Jews still refer to the diaspora which means, those dispersed.
But he explains to these believers in Jesus, that you Christians are real exiles, because you are far from home.
They were social misfits or aliens or strangers, and that is never easy. We don’t fit in. We don’t belong in this world, but we remain here to witness and shine and testify and serve.
We, according to this first letter of Peter, are aliens or misfits and unwanted. Do you see how we can become one with the Jews?
We are exiles, and the common factor is that we are different, but selected by God, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit and sprinkled or sealed by Jesus. This is what cuts us off. It is all there in that first Chapter.
We are chosen by God, and this we share this with Israel.
This introduces us to the big word which is ‘predestination’. It is a lovely truth. God decided to have me, and choose me. What an honour and privilege to be chosen by God. This is reassuring and comforting, and the Holy Spirit is at work in our heart, to enable us to obey.
God chooses us for obedience. Note the order. The work of God begins through the Holy Spirit, and then we come to Jesus. Peter is explaining that this is how it happened to me. The Holy Spirit has come and set me apart, and we are sprinkled, or marked or sealed and secured by the blood of Jesus Christ. This makes us different.
This is what makes us brothers and sisters. This is what causes our home to be in heaven and causes us to be exiles or strangers down here.
All this is in the title of the letter and in his opening words.
He writes this to persecuted people. Even persecuted people can experience peace. Even when misrepresented and ridiculed and mocked and laughed at and falsely blamed, it is possible to know the peace of God.
Peter is a Jew, and he now is so transformed and changed, that he has this real love for Gentiles, for those who are not Jews, and he will serve wherever God sends him.
This is indeed a letter full of riches, and he goes on to speak about the salvation of our souls.
Salvation means the same as salvage. Things we were going to throw out and then we salvaged them, and we made them useful, and they became useful. We made them serve a purpose. They were needed.
God said, I am going to salvage these people. I am going to rescue them and save them, and make them not only feel useful, but I am going to use them. I am going to call these men and women to serve me. I am going to give them a purpose to their lives as they follow Jesus. I am going to give them faith and hope and love, and they are going to produce fruit, and they will receive gifts as well.
These are tremendous privileges which we have received from God, and Peter is thinking about two groups which would have appreciated experiencing what we have received; the prophets, and the angels; human beings and supernatural beings.
This is amazing. What we have received the prophets wrote about. They were like blind lamplighters. They were lighting lights but they did not realise exactly what they were doing. They did not know what they were saying, or what they were speaking about.
It was like an enormous jigsaw, and they saw only one part, but we have the whole picture on the box, but they faithfully told that part which God revealed to them. Is Peter thinking here too of Isaiah Chapter 53?
These prophets were writing for you and not for themselves. They were serving you.
Peter had been reading the prophets and he was immersed in the writings of the prophets.
This is why it can be so important to share what God has revealed to you and to share what Jesus has said to you, no matter how insignificant or unrelated to anything else that is going on around you in the Church or in the world.
They caught a fraction of the vision or a fragment, but they shared what they saw.
One prophet knew Jesus would be born of a virgin, another knew He would have to flee to Egypt and another that Jesus the Messiah would be anointed of the Holy Spirit, and be betrayed and given vinegar to drink and that his hands and feet would be pierced and that he would be buried in a rich man’s grave, and raised from that grave and this on the third day.
Each knew just a little piece. Who is that, and when is He going to come?
The prophets did not know but they shared the little piece they did know – and sometimes it cost them their lives