Devotional for Friday, June 22, 2012
Twilight: From Servanthood to Sovereignty
by the Rev. Andrew Kuyvenhoven
Peter's first epistle is addressed to "strangers in the world," who have their homeland in heaven. They are not surprised that they suffer when they do what is right. They follow the footprints of Jesus.
1 Peter 3:18–22
Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous.... [He] has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand (1 Pet. 3:18, 22).
This is a notoriously difficult Bible passage. Usually we say it deals with Jesus' descent into hell. If so, then "hell" should be understood as the place where dead people go (Hades) rather than the place where wicked people are punished (Gehenna).
What is especially shocking and puzzling to us is the fact that this letter was originally written to uneducated slaves who had just become Christians. Apparently they understood the meaning of this passage better than the theologians who have been squabbling over it for centuries.
Peter tells these slaves that when they suffer for doing right, they are in good company. If you are beaten, Peter says, remember this: Jesus' battered body sagged on the cross, but that was not the end of him or of his work. He rose in the might of the Spirit. After that he was no longer limited to a certain time and place. He preached his victory in all corners of the universe and emerged at the highest rank - at God's right hand.
All servants of the Lord who are ill-treated in this world should remember that he who became the slave of all is now sovereign over all. Therefore, in the words of Martin Luther:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;