Inexpressible Joy (Chapter 1 Verses 3-12)
The ultimate reason we hang on in there? Because we love him (vv8-9). Usually we only love people who we have seen. But because we have not seen Jesus, we cannot say we love him this way. Yet we do love him, and with a godly (agape) love. That is an intelligent, a reasonable love, God’s kind of love (John 3.16), but not of course with the same degree of intensity. Now this is something that Peter himself could not say, because he had seen Jesus, walked with him, dined with him, touched him, and listened to him. But who has the better part? Well according to Jesus himself it is us who have never seen him (John 20.29). So, though now you do not see him, yet you love him, and endure these trials, that is commendable, praiseworthy. And so loving, and trusting him we rejoice with an inexpressible and glorious joy (v8). It is in the midst of such trials that a spirit of glory rests upon God’s children (1Peter 4.14), and one by one as they enter heaven’s glory, receive the goal, the final outcome of their faith – salvation.
The first point is the certainty of this hope (vv3-5), then the ability to rejoice in the trials (vv6-9), and now the means by which it is bestowed upon the believer (vv10-12) – the gospel. It is exactly the same gospel that was preached by the Old Testament prophets (Matthew 13.17). These prophets searched into their own prophecies, both diligently and earnestly. What for? The salvation Peter speaks of here. These men had spoken of the grace that was to come to Peter’s readers, and us. And now he says it has become a reality, the grace and sovereign kindness of God which they have received in Jesus. Some think Old Testament prophets preached nothing but the law, far from it, they were preachers of grace (v11). They searched their messages, enquiring what kind, what manner of message is this, for now or later? What time period, in what age will God bring this about? But they did not search it like learned theologians pursuing their intellectual, and scholarly investigations. But as men who burned with a desire for the arrival of this grace, because they were filled with the same Spirit of Jesus Christ as you and I are. It was the Person of God’s Spirit in them who indicated, pointed them to the future sufferings of the Saviour and the glory that would follow. They looked forward trustingly to Jesus and what he would do and they were saved. They looked forward, we look back to Jesus and his work, and in the same way are likewise saved.
(© James R Hamilton, written May, 1998)