Trinity Seventh Sunday Morning Prayer (18 July 2021) 1 Peter 3:13-22
Today’s meditation is based on our New Testament Reading, St. Peter’s first epistle, chapter 3, verses 13–22. We know that Peter was one of the disciples of Jesus. Peter wrote this epistle to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. That is, he wrote to the scattered Jews in Asia minor. He wrote this epistle when they were under the Roman dynasty in the first century. Although Peter was the first apostle who preached Gospel to the gentiles, most of his ministry was among the scattered Jews. Peter’s epistle is applicable to the present church also. Peter talked about three important things in today’s passage:
1. Followers of good
2. Suffer for well doing
1. Followers of good
In verse 13 we read “who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” Peter instructs us to be followers of that which is good. We have meditated many times about being and doing good. We have also meditated about the struggle or war between good and evil. God created the world and humans and found it was good. He also created the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit from that tree, their eyes were opened. Cain and Abel brought their offering to the LORD God. Abel’s offering was accepted. Cain’s offering was not accepted. Cain killed Abel. This war between good and evil continued through generations. Along with this, the wisdom of distinguishing good and evil also got passed. I would like to remind a few verses that speak about doing good and not evil. Deuteronomy 13:5 commands the “Israelites to put the evil away from the midst of them”. God insists the Israelites many times in Deuteronomy to put the evil away from the midst of them. God also said in Deuteronomy 30:15, “I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil”. God commanded to remove evil from their midst but He also gave them the choice to choose between good that leads to life and evil that leads to death. The wisest man on earth, King Solomon, said in Proverbs 8:13 that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. Psalm 34:14 asks us to depart from evil and do good. In Matthew 5:44 Jesus said “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”.
2. Suffer for well doing
1 Peter 3:17 says, “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing”. We read about many people in the Bible who suffered for doing good. Joseph, Moses and David are a few well-known examples. We are familiar about the sufferings of many missionaries who took the Gospel around the world. Jesus Christ, who came to this world to save every one of us, suffered to save all of us from eternal death. He suffered under Pilate and died on the cross for our transgressions and sins. When we confirm our Christian faith by saying the Creed every Sunday, we acknowledge this. In Isaiah 53 we read about Jesus’ suffering. The Apostles who were the pillars of the early Christian Church followed Jesus’ footsteps. They suffered for doing good. We are familiar about Paul’s suffering. Peter was crucified upside down on the cross and died for Jesus. John was made blind and deported to Patmos. Thomas went to India and sacrificed his life for Jesus. Their lives are examples of Jesus’ expectation in John 12:24. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit”.
Evangelism is preaching the gospel which is the word of God. In 1 Peter 3: 19 we read that Jesus “went and preached unto the spirits in prison”. Jesus was the first evangelist who came to this world to change the evil to good. When Jesus started preaching about the kingdom of heaven, the people in darkness saw a great light. Gospel is good news and Jesus’ expectation is for his disciples to go and spell. In Matthew 28:19 He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”. We read the same in Mark 16:15. After Jesus died on the cross, His spirit went and preached to the spirits in prison. He preached the word of God, salvation and the grace of God and evangelised among the souls of the Old Testament saints. When He resurrected and ascended to heaven, He took those who accepted the Gospel to Paradise. He sent us the Holy Spirit so we can be baptised with the Spirit to become a new creature.
In the Garden of Eden was another special tree that had the fruit of life. God had given Adam and Eve the authority to eat the fruit of life. Instead, they chose to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This evil stopped them from reaching the tree of life. It was kept out of their reach because God did not want humans with sin to live for ever. Jesus died on the cross for us so we can inherit this everlasting life that was lost. When we inherit our eternal life in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus will give us the fruit of life. When we are separated from evil, we will live with Jesus for ever. The Old Testament commanded to do good for good and evil for evil. Jesus commanded us to do good for evil. We can do good only when we put away evil from our midst. Only when we do good can we inherit eternal life.
During His sermon on the mount Jesus said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake”. Jesus did good to the people but they crucified Him on the cross. Many times, we say we have a lot of sufferings. Most of the times, our sufferings because of a decision that we took or something that we did. Very rarely we suffer because we did good for God or because we did the will of God. Walking with Jesus or our Christian life is not walking on a red carpet. We have to run our race “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith”. Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. He despised the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. When we have removed evil, are we suffering for doing good that is the will of God?
There are many ways to carry the Gospel in our everyday lives. We don’t always have to preach. Our lives and actions can speak louder than many sermons. 1 Peter 3: 15 says we must sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to every man that asks us a reason of the hope that is in us. Verse 16 says we must have a good conscience that those who speak evil of us may be ashamed when they falsely accuse our good conversation in Christ. Do we maintain our Christian witness even when we are suffering for God? Let us self-examine our lives. Are our lives transforming the lives of others? When we are baptised with the Holy Spirit, we can separate evil and do good, suffer for doing good and spread the Gospel so those in darkness can see a light.
Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. Are we doing good to those who do evil to us? Are we departing from evil, and doing good; seeking peace, and pursuing it? Are we transforming other’s lives and preparing them to inherit eternal life in the kingdom of heaven? Will we lead anyone to eternal life? Philippians 4:8 encourages us “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Amen!