Hope can be a very dangerous thing. Your greatest wounds may be tied to unrealized dreams or unexpected disappointments. Unfortunately, the daily and worldly hopes we know in this life create some category confusion when it comes to our hope in Christ.
Peter’s first letter is written to Christians in conflict. Since following Jesus, they have not found the peace or safety or prosperity or relief that they might have expected. This world and their lives continue to be marred by inconvenience, disease, disappointment, persecution and even death.
They’re experiencing trials of every kind (1 Peter 1:6). Some are enduring sorrow, while suffering unjustly (2:19). They are receiving evil, being reviled (3:9) and slandered (3:16). They were maligned (4:4) and insulted (4:14). And these sufferings were common “throughout the world” (5:9). There’s suffering on every page of the book, and that is the scary, uncertain, painful context into which Peter speaks hope.
Hope for the Heartbreaks
As a follower of Christ, this life will not be easy or comfortable, but it will be real and full and lasting. Jesus says follow me and you will find inexpressible and glorious joy despite and even in really hard, bitter, heart-breaking, even excruciating moments and realities in your life.
The letter begins, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3–5).
The first note Peter strikes is one of praise. Blessed be the life-giving, death-defying, overpowering God of absolutely miraculous mercy. If you believe and follow Jesus, you will face really difficult — maybe even more difficult — things in this life, but the God who raises the dead is your God and he’s with you. God has given you a new, true, full life through his Son, Jesus. And the life he gives is filled with an unconquerable, unquenchable hope.
A Hope That Always Comes True
God has caused us to be born again to a living hope, a hope which Peter makes deliberately distinct from a lot of the other hopes we’ve known. We hope all the time, and we’re often disappointed. I hope I get an A on that test. I hope they hire me. I hope she says yes. I hope we can get a new car. I hope he remembers our anniversary. Our hopes don’t always come true.
This is not the kind of hope we have in God. Our hope in God is unlike any we’ve ever had, and that is because there is a moment in history that sets this hope apart from any other.
Peter writes, “…he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” The tomb could not hold the living, breathing, scarred, but victorious body of our Jesus. The man who claimed to be God, who committed no sin (2:22), and who died before hostile crowds, appeared again, just days later, before crowds bearing the wounds of the cross, but demonstrating a power and victory over it. He is alive.
And here in verse 3, Peter connects this life, the God-man’s life after death, witnessed by hundreds, celebrated at Easter, with your hope. Believer, if Jesus lives, you will live. God established and secured your hope when he raised his Son. Therefore, your hope is as alive as Jesus.
A Test You Can Trust
You’re going to be tempted to assess God’s faithfulness to deliver you by your circumstance, but the better test is the man standing beside the rolled away boulder, a place where angels say, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? …Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen.”
When everyone who had followed Jesus watched him suffer and die, they thought their hope had been crucified with him. But our hope did not die at Calvary. No, at the darkest moment of all, when defeat seemed certain, God was sealing our hope, enthroning it for all eternity in his Son.
As painful and heartbreaking as some of our days have been and will be, none will come close to the day we crucified the Lord. And yet even in that scene, God was big and strong and wise and merciful and present — he was there — bringing about his plan to save us and secure our hope forever.
When Our Flesh Fails, We Won’t
So when our flesh finally succumbs to death, when our body ultimately fails us by whatever means and at whatever age, the living Jesus assures us that we will live — and that we’ll live like never before. Our lives then and there with Jesus will be more full, more glorious — complete.
When life gives you pause about God’s goodness and faithfulness — when people fail and hurt you, when work oppresses you, when finances plague you, when you are rejected or offended because of your faith, when tornadoes tear through a town… more than once — we have a picture, better, a person, a living Jesus, who can still our hearts and instill trust and courage where fear, and doubt, and confusion have crept in. As long as Jesus lives — and he will never die again — and our hope is in him, our hope lives with him.