Serving You

1 Peter 1:10-12

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. ESV

Review

Andrew MurrayIntroduction: On God’s Heart

First Peter 1:10-12 shows us the breathtaking character of God Almighty who cares for His people. He has been actively working to bring us to everlasting joy and peace in His presence – since before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 13:8). This passage reveals that the God who called the universe into existence has had you in His thoughts and plans even from the earliest pages of the Bible. He has been preparing for your faith for ages so that what has now been announced to you about Jesus the Messiah might be received with joy.

Peter’s Argument:

In 1 Peter 1:3-12 Peter is building a case for why you and I should join him in rejoicing and praising God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ even as we are now grieved by various trials.

In verses 3-5 we were told that God, according to His great mercy, has acted; He has caused us to be born of again to a living hope. God has had mercy on us and has rescued us from spiritual death and so we have a living hope because of what Jesus Christ accomplished in his death and resurrection. We have become heirs of God. The Spirit of God has been given to us as the down payment of our imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance, which is kept in heaven for us. Our eternal inheritance is safe and secure. And we were shown that we ourselves are safe and secure, guarded by God Himself for that eternal inheritance. What is crucial to see is that the means God is using to guard us and bring us safely to glory is faith.

In verses 6-9 we were told that as we wait for this salvation, ready to be revealed, Christians will experience real and diverse suffering during this short time before Christ appears. But even this suffering and grief is intended by God for a good purpose. God is in the business of keeping His children in the faith – clinging to Christ – and getting them to glory. So, He is lovingly getting our hearts off the treasures of this world and unto The Treasure, Jesus the Messiah. Tested genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the most valuable thing we can posses in this world. God cares about us and is even at work in your pain for your everlasting good.

In verses 10-12, Peter adds to his case for why you and I should be rejoicing and praising God even as you may suffer for a short time. Peter wants us to consider how incredibly privileged we are to live when we live and to posses what we possess in this hour of history. God has not abandoned you in your hour of pain. Rather He has made provision for your faith.

As we come to this third section of Peter’s argument about why we should be rejoicing in God our Savior, Peter is speaking about the very great salvation, which has been announced to us in the gospel. One of the things he is doing is drawing our attention up to the very great value of this salvation, but more than that he is drawing our attention up to the very gracious God who has loved us across the ages. Let’s see if we see that in our text.

Unpacking Our Privilege:

Salvation Has Come

First of all, we should note in verse 10 that Peter is not changing subjects. He says, “Concerning this salvation…” This is what Peter has been focused on since verse 3. And even as he is, indeed, thinking about the final salvation of our souls ready to be revealed in the last times (vs 5 and 9), he has and continues now in 10-12 to connect that future day when Christ appears to the means by which that final salvation comes to us.

So notice in verse 10 he says, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets prophesied about the grace that was to be yours…” Note that Peter does not say, “they prophesied about the grace that will be yours, still yet in the future.” He says, “[they] prophesied about the grace that was to be yours.” There is implied here a now present reality to this grace. It has come to us. It is now ours. And this implication is made explicit in verse 11 as we find that this grace, about which the prophets of old prophesied, came in the sufferings and subsequent glories of Christ.

So the salvation of our souls is not something wholly in the future anymore. Yes, we are waiting for its completion at the appearing of Christ, but the grace about which the prophets foretold has already arrived in Jesus. The Old Testament prophesies about the sufferings and subsequent glories of the Messiah were pointing to Jesus of Nazareth. As Peter says in verse 12 these things have now been announced to you in the preaching of the gospel. The gracious salvation of our souls has been accomplished in the life, death, and resurrection of the promised Messiah, Jesus, even as we still await His return and the final and full glory of that salvation.

The Holy Spirit Predicted

So Peter is calling us to get our attention up on the very great salvation that has come to us in Jesus Christ. But, Peter is also concerned here to show us the incredible preparation of God for us in ages past. So look at verse 10 again. Beginning there, Peter tells us that,

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from Heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Peter is alerting us to the fact that what has happened in the sufferings and afterward glories of Christ – is the very thing the prophets of the Old Testament were eager to search out and understand.

Now, Peter gives us a chance here to better understand how the Old Testament Scriptures came to be written. It is crucial to notice who the Initiator was in the prophecies of the Old Testament. In verse 10, you have the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours but in verse 11 it says the Spirit of Christ, that is the Holy Spirit, who was in the prophets was the One predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. So let’s make sure we understand what was going on. The Holy Spirit was the One at work in the prophets and He was the One predicting the then future gospel.

And so as Peter says in 2 Peter 1:19-21,

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Men spoke, yes. Men prophesied, but it was the Holy Spirit who carried them along. No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man. Every prophecy was produced by the will of God as He carried the prophets along, revealing just exactly what He wanted to reveal.

Indeed, the prophets themselves did not know everything there was to know about what the Spirit of God was predicting. So, verse 10 of our passage says that the prophets searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person (it may better be translated “circumstance”) or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating. Even the prophets who spoke from God were not given every detail about the time and circumstances of the Messiah’s work. God is the one with the definite plan and with perfect knowledge of what He would accomplish and how. The prophets of the Old Testament spoke what God had given them.

Not For Them; For Us!

But here we come to an amazing thought. Peter says in verse 12, that it was revealed to the Old Testament prophets that they were not serving themselves with their prophecies. The text says that it was revealed to the prophets that the prophecies given to them were intended to minister to people yet in the future. And here is the really amazing thing: Peter says that the Old Testament prophets were told they were serving you! We are the benefactors of their prophetic ministry.

Don’t miss this. Who was God serving through the Old Testament prophets? You! God had you in mind when He carried the prophets along. The things revealed in the OT are there so that when the Christ came we would recognize Him. They were written down so that when the glorious gospel was accomplished and then preached to us, we might believe that Jesus is indeed the promised and predicted Messiah.

The coming of Christ in the gospel is not Plan B. The coming of the Messiah Jesus is the grand fulfillment of God’s foreordained purpose to ransom people out of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. And the Scriptures of the Old Testament, as they point us to Christ, were written with you in mind. They were written for your faith.

Even as God promised all the way back in Genesis 3 that the seed of the woman would have his heel bruised by the serpent but that He would bruise the head of the serpent that was for us who now know that the Seed is Jesus of Nazareth who defeated Satan at the cross and rose victorious over death. The entirety of the Old Testament as it reveals and unfolds and foretells the redemption accomplished by the Messiah was written for our faith. The Holy Spirit had you in mind. God has been making preparations to strengthen you faith in Christ for millennia. And it is the same Holy Spirit by which the gospel announcement has come to you.

I want you to listen to how Peter addresses the men of Israel in Acts 3. They are astounded that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth a man lame from birth has been made well. I bring this up because of how Peter understands God’s gracious preparation. Peter uses the Old Testament Scriptures to show that Jesus is the One God had promised and it is through Him that restoration with God comes. Peter says to them,

Acts 3:12-26

Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things – about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people. ’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. ’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.

This is addressed to the men of Israel, but as Acts 10 and following records, this salvation – consisting of the blotting out of sins and times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord and restoration – this salvation has broken over the banks of Israel and has come even to the Gentiles. This salvation in Jesus the Messiah has come to us.

But what we need to see in this passage is that God used the prophets to proclaim the gospel before hand so that when it came to pass we would see and understand and love the Redeemer when He came. God has prepared the former words for your present faith.

Blessed in this Age:

In our passage this morning, Peter is saying, “Set your mind upon the depths of God’s love for you. His provision for you in Christ Jesus was foretold and that prediction was His preparation for your faith. This very great salvation all the prophets of old longed to understand and longed to see come to pass but it was revealed to them that their prophetic ministry, given to them by the Spirit of God, was intended to serve you, a generation when the prophetic word would be confirmed. And it is indeed this longed for salvation that has now taken place in the sufferings and subsequent glories of Jesus the Messiah. And this has been announced to you by the Holy Spirit. Consider the quality and depths of God’s love and wisdom and mercy toward you!”

You and I are incredibly privileged to live in the days of the fulfillment of the predictions of the Messiah and in the days when the good news is going to the nations in the power of the Spirit, in the days when the announcement of salvation in Jesus the Messiah has overflowed the banks of Israel and come to us.

God planned, God predicted, God prepared, and then God sent His Son and God accomplished His very great salvation in Jesus Christ, and now God has sought you out and announced the good news to you – if He has done all this, you can trust Him to finish what He started. He will return for you.

Closing Questions:

These things lead me to ask two questions. The first question is this: do you love and study the Scriptures that were written for you? They were written for your faith. Do you know what the prophets wrote?

Consider the last phrase in verse 12,

It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Angels long to look into this gospel. Angels are interested in what God promised and revealed before, and, what God has done and is doing for your salvation. They are interested to know the glory and richness of salvation in Jesus Christ – Are you?

Do you long to look into these things? Angels understand that this is were the glory is – and its not even for them – God did not take on an angelic nature to redeem the angels that fell, but He has joined Himself to the human race to bring us to glory! Are these things, the things you long to look into?

Let us be people of the Scriptures. The prophets were serving us. The Holy Spirit wrote the Old and New Testament for our benefit, for our faith and salvation.

The second question is this: does 1 Peter 1:8-9 describe you?

1 Peter 1:8-9

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Peter is writing to stir the affections of believes, reminding us of the wealth of God’s grace toward us in Christ Jesus. Peter’s intention is to strengthen us, encourage us, and draw our hearts again to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: as we live awaiting the appearing of our great Savior and the inheritance He has purchased for us, as you live in this time when we don’t yet see Him, do you love Him? Thought you do not now see Him, do you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory?

Here is a truth we need to come to grips with: without genuine faith in Jesus of Nazareth there is no salvation, no refreshing, no restoration with God. He is the Man who God has appointed, the Lamb slain and the Lion triumphant.

If we do not love Him, if we do not believe in Him, if we do not rejoice in Him with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, than we will not obtain the outcome of faith, the salvation of our souls, because we do not have faith. It is faith in Christ that will result in praise, honor and glory at the appearing of Christ. It is love and affection for Christ; it is joy in our inner person as we consider His Person and work for us that will result in the salvation of our souls. The question is does 1 Peter 1:8-9 describe us?

Now, if you are hearing this and you don’t know if 1 Peter 1:8-9 describes you. You fear that it does not. Or perhaps you know that you love Christ but you feel that your faith is weak and your love is not what it should be. What should you do?

I’ll tell you what you do: pick up the Scriptures which have been written for those loved by God to strengthen our faith – and you pray that the Spirit who wrote these words would convict and convince and strengthen your faith in Jesus the Christ. Pray that the Spirit would give you eyes to see the glory of Christ Jesus in the Scriptures. And you get around people who love and know the Scriptures and who love and know Christ. Do not let this provision of God lie unknown and unstudied and uncherished.

Conclusion:

The salvation that has been accomplished by Jesus Christ is the very salvation which the prophets of old foretold and longed to see take place. These Old Testament predictions were given by the Spirit of God for our faith. The Spirit revealed what would take place so that we, now, would love and rest upon the Messiah Jesus. The grace shown to you in Christ Jesus is not some whim or fickle decision of God. It has been long planned and long foretold and long hoped for.

Are you experiencing trials and grief? God has not abandoned you in your hour of pain. He has made provision for your faith in His wonderful Word. The God who planned and foretold and sent and accomplished and announced grace to you in Christ Jesus will bring that grace to completion – no matter what trial you may be facing.

Brothers and sisters, the end of the ages is upon us. The salvation long promised and predicted has come in Jesus Christ our Lord. The promised Holy Spirit has been poured out on all flesh and everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:28-32).

~ Andy

About Andrew Murray
Andrew “Andy” Murray was born and raised in New Hampshire. His father, pastor Loren Murray, served Fellowship Bible Church in Chester, NH. At six years of age Andy trusted in Jesus Christ and was baptized. He was brought up “acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” At the age of 12 his father was in a fatal car accident. Reflecting on the loss of his dad Andy writes; “I see now the wise and loving hand of Christ in my life, as He used this event to, shape, mold and press me toward Himself. It was this event that sparked in me an earnest desire to know God from His Word. By His grace, this desire has continued to grow.” Andy met his wife, Elizabeth, at Philadelphia Biblical University (now Cairn University). They have four wonderful boys. Visit Windham Bible Chapel.

Precious Faith

1 Peter 1:6-9

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ESV

Review

Andrew MurrayIntroduction: What is Precious?

If you were to sit down and write out your plans for the day or the week or the next month or year or five years – what would you write? If you were to sit down and write out what you would like to see happen before the end of your life, what would you write? If you could let yourself dream about a really good and successful life, what kinds of things come to mind? Excellent weather, good health and safety, close friends and family, abundant and good food, financial success and stability, being appreciated and praised, being effective in all your endeavors?

Or to think about it another way, what kind of things wouldnt come to mind? What sort of things would be excluded from your plans? Icy roads, disease and illness in ourselves or in those we love, loss of loved ones, strained and broken relationships, poverty, hunger, persecution, pain any kind, failure and futility?

If we were to write down our dreams about what we would like to see happen before the end of our lives, and we were honest, I wonder if our hearts desires would reflect the priorities that we find in our passage this morning.

A Text About Value

Our text this morning is calling us to renew our thinking about what is most precious in this life. Peter is really helping us thing carefully about what really matters here during the time of our sojourn. He is giving us the truth we need to understand this life that dont often match the life we would have planned. If we ignore the truth of what Peter is saying here we are going to be more discouraged and more susceptible to stumbling. This passage is teaching us about Gods good purpose for every difficulty we face.

Last week Peter began by praising God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for what He has done in causing us to be born again to a living hope through Christ, who lived, died and rose victorious over sin and death. And Peter praises God for what He is doing right now in guarding and securing our imperishable, undefiled, unfading inheritance in heaven and in guarding and securing us by His Spirit for that promised future inheritance. And He is doing it through faith.

Rejoicing Yet Sorrowing

And here, verse 6 begins, In this you rejoice…” I pray that this is true of you. I pray that as you hear the wonderful news about what God has done and is doing for your everlasting joy that you taste that the Lord is good. I hope that your heart is filled with love for God and love for Christ and love for the Spirit. God has caused us to be born again, born of the Spirit, to an inheritance in the heavenly country forever and ever in life and joy through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Soon the Lord of glory will be revealed and we will receive our promised heavenly inheritance – I pray that you do rejoice. I pray that your life is marked by joy! Joy in the Father. Joy in Christ. Joy in the Spirit. Joy in our living hope. Christians are a people who rejoice in the gospel.

But Peter makes it plain that even as Christians greatly rejoice in Gods work for them in Christ Jesus and what that work means for our future, Christians are not without grief in this life. He says in verse 6, In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials…”

There are few things that Peter highlights here about Christians and suffering.

Suffering is Real

The first is that suffering is real. Pain is real. I think we need to note the fact that being born again does not mean we have ceased to feel pain. Even as Peter says these Christians rejoice – he follows that immediately affirming that they have experienced real grief.

It was the apostle Paul who said in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18,

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

But he also said in Romans 8:23,

we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

I think it is important that as we eagerly wait for the Day of the Lord that we dont pretend that all our pain and heartache has evaporated. Even as we always have reason to rejoice there will also be times when we are weeping in this life. Is this a contradiction? I dont think so.

Heres an example:

Lets say a little boy and his father are walking down the street together. The little boy sees something on the other side and manages to pull his had free from his father and runs into the road. A car is coming. The father only has time to throw himself in front of the car. The man wakes up in the hospital in a body cast. His whole body is raked with pain. And there before him is his wife holding their son and he is perfectly healthy and safe. In that moment there is both joy and groaning.

We should not deny that life is painful and difficult when it is, but for the Christian there is always abundant reason to rejoice in Christ our Savior. Suffering is real and so is our joy.

Suffering is Varied

But suffering is also varied. Peter says these Christians have been grieved by various trials. There are many ways to suffer and many different kinds of painful circumstances. Consider the description of the early Churchs varied sufferings.

Hebrews 10:32-34,

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

We may not all be martyrs for our faith, but some might. We might not all go to prison, though some might. We might not all have our property plundered, but some might. We may not all get cancer or loss a home or a job. We simply dont know what sufferings will be required of us.

Suffering is Short

But, even as Christians suffering is real and it is varied, Christian suffering is short. Peter says in verse 6, In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials…”

Peter is helping us gain perspective on our suffering in this life. Peter is not saying that Christian suffering is short when compared to this life. He is saying that this life is short – and we know this because he points us to relief at the revelation of Jesus Christ” in verses 7 and 9. This life time is when we are grieved by various trials and it is this life that is short. I dont care how old you, everyone of us is icing on the cake of human history and all of human history is not even dust on the scales when compared to the endless ages prepared for those who are in Christ Jesus. This life is short.

2 Corinthians 4:17

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison

Romans 8:18

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Christian suffering is short.

Suffering has a Purpose.

As true as all these observations are, we have not yet reached Peters true point here. The point that Peter is making in this section is that Christian suffering, which is real, varied, and short has a purpose.

Notice the little phrase, if necessaryof if needed.Peter is alerting us to the fact that, in some way, our real, varied, and short sufferings are needed for something. Why would it be necessary or needed that Christians are grieved by various trials? This question is getting to the heart of what Peter is trying to tell us. Verse 7 gives us the answer to this question,

…so that the tested genuineness of your faithmore precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by firemay be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Verse 7 lets us in on some very important facts, the first being that God Himself has a purpose in our suffering. You may be asking yourself, Where do you see in this text that God has a purpose? God isnt even mentioned.Well, think carefully about what Peter is saying. Christians rejoice in the glorious hope of the gospel, though now for a little while, if necessary, they have been grieved. So Peter is saying that grief in the Christian life may be needed to accomplish something. It is needed for some purpose.

What is that purpose? We are told that the purpose is so that the tested genuineness of our faith may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at Christs appearing. Suffering and trials are used to test our faith so as to show the genuineness and reality of our faith – and it is tested genuine faith that results in praise and glory and honor when Christ appears. Suffering in you life has this purpose: to test your faith and to prove it to be genuine so that when Christ arrives we will receive praise and honor and glory.

So whose purpose is that? Whose purpose is it to ensure that our faith is tried and true so that it results in praise and honor and glory when Christ appears? Its not our adversary the devils purpose. Its not our persecutors purpose. Whose purpose is it to bless us with praise and honor and glory to us at the revelation of Christ?

It is Gods purpose.

God Intends Good

Verses 3-5 were all about praising God for causing us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept in heaven for us, who by Gods power are being kept through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Peter is tell us that all this is true, that God is abundant in mercy toward us and seeking our everlasting joy in Christ Jesus – even when we are grieved by various trials and in fact that grief has a purpose in Gods gracious plan to bring us to glory.  

I want to make sure that we are hearing this. God has a gracious purpose in all our suffering. Whatever pain you have experienced or are experiencing, whatever trial you are walking through, God has a kind intention in that suffering. Even as the devil and evil people have evil intention toward us and are seeking for evil reasons to multiply our sufferings (and that is exactly the context into which Peter is writing – these Christians were experiencing persecution), God our loving Father in Christ Jesus intends good through those same sufferings.

How can this be? How can evil things happen to us by the hands of evil people and those same things be intended by God for good and kind purposes? Is that possible? Yes.

Remember Josephs words to his brothers after their father Jacob had died and the brothers were nervous that Joseph would now take revenge for the evil things they had done to him. Joseph says,

Genesis 50:20

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

The same actions, intended by the brothers for evil, were intended by God for good.

Or, take for example, the crucifying of our Lord. Was it evil to deliver Jesus up and crucify the Lord of Glory? Oh course it was! And yet as Peter makes plan in Acts 2:22-23 all those things happened as God had planned and all Gods plans are good.

Acts 2:22-23

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves knowthis Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Peter wants us to know that even as we face horrifying and painful circumstances and even as they may be done to us by the hands of evil people – God has a good intention in all your suffering. The grief you are experiencing is not without purpose it’s not outside God’s control and this text tells us about that good purpose.

The Treasure of a Tested Faith

So lets make sure we understand this good purpose of God in our suffering. What is Gods intention in our suffering? Well, verse 7 says it is so that the tested genuineness of our faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

This verse tells us something very profound about Gods priorities and it should inform our priorities.

Gods priority is your faith, not your finances. What is most precious in this verse? Gold? Riches? Comfort? No. Tested genuine faith. It is more precious than gold refined in the fire. Why? Because gold perishes. God is interested in securing your full and lasting treasure, not in making sure you have small and temporary ones. Abundant earthly riches and success and comfort are not what you need and in fact those things can become nothing more than distractions and idols.

Mark 10:25-27

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

Our heavenly Father knows what we truly need. God knows the treasure that will really satisfy our hearts forever and it’s not gold. It’s not earthly comforts. It’s not anything this world can afford. We think if God loved us he would make our lives comfortable, but God is far more interested in your long-term comfort in Him.

God is in the business of getting His children to glory. He is not in the business of making them comfortable on their way to hell.

What is the treasure that will satisfy? It is God Himself seen in the face of Jesus Christ. The only thing that will bring us lasting and full pleasure is God Himself – He is what makes our inheritance glorious. So what God wants for His beloved children is to get our hearts off of the things of this world and fix them upon Christ. He is working to strengthen and refine our faith in Christ and Christ alone.

Tested genuine faith is the most valuable treasure we can possess in this world. When Jesus Christ appears it is the tested genuine faith that will be shown to have been of infinitely more value than all the treasures and comforts this world offered. All the treasures this world could afford will result in dust and ashes. It is the heart that is genuinely clinging to Christ that will result in praise from God and honor from God and glory from God at the revelation of Jesus.

You dream about a successful life. Do you dream about possessing genuine faith which had been tested by the fire, which results in everlasting glory? That is the successful life.

Matthew 13:44-46

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Loving the Unseen

Peter is showing us that God has a kind intention is all our suffering. We have been and will be grieved by various trials so that our faith in Christ will be strengthened and refined. He is getting our hearts off of the perishable and on to the imperishable. He is showing the small value of temporary and limited comforts so that we rest wholly upon the full and everlasting Comfort. We look not to what is seen, but to what is unseen.

1 Peter 1:8-9

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

This is what our gracious Father is working in us through these very real, short, and varied sufferings. Praise Him!

Concluding Illustration

In 2003 John Piper did a biography of Adoniram Judson, a Baptist missionary to Burma in the 1800s. I highly recommend that message which is available at desiringgod.org. The title of that message is How Few There Are Who Die So Hard!

Adoniram Judson poured out his life in this world to make Christ known among the Burmese people. His life was full of suffering. He said once,

If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.

Judson believed what Peter taught here. But it is Adoniram Judsons wife, Ann, who Id like us to hear as we close. She joined this missionary and they had three children, all of which died. Piper recounts, The first baby, nameless, died and was dropped in the water between India and Rangoon. The next Roger Williams Judson dies at 17 months old …And the next, Maria Elizabeth Butterworth Judson died 6 months after her mother, Ann, died.

So Ann was acquainted with suffer. But Ann believed that God was not against her. Rather, she believed that He had kind intentions in all that happen to her. At age 23, after loosing her second baby, she wrote this,

Our hearts were bound up with this child; we felt he was our earthly all, our only source of innocent recreation in this heathen land. But God saw that it was necessary to remind us of our error, and to strip us of our only little all. O, may it not be in vain that he has done it. May we so improve it that he will stay his hand and say, It is enough.’”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

~ Andy

About Andrew Murray
Andrew “Andy” Murray was born and raised in New Hampshire. His father, pastor Loren Murray, served Fellowship Bible Church in Chester, NH. At six years of age Andy trusted in Jesus Christ and was baptized. He was brought up “acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” At the age of 12 his father was in a fatal car accident. Reflecting on the loss of his dad Andy writes; “I see now the wise and loving hand of Christ in my life, as He used this event to, shape, mold and press me toward Himself. It was this event that sparked in me an earnest desire to know God from His Word. By His grace, this desire has continued to grow.” Andy met his wife, Elizabeth, at Philadelphia Biblical University (now Cairn University). They have four wonderful boys. Visit Windham Bible Chapel.

Knowing Our Lord

Matthew 21:1-17 ESV

Introduction

Andrew MurrayWe call the Sunday before Easter Palm Sundaybecause it marks the day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the crowds spread their coats and palm branches on the road, proclaiming that this Jesus was the Messiah, the one who would bring salvation to Israel, the Son of David, the promised prophet! But this event is significant, not only because of the peoples recognition of who Jesus is but also because it marks Jesusown active proclamation about who He is and the nature of His Kingship.

So lets look at what the people were saying about Jesus and then we will look at what Jesus was saying about Jesus and the nature of His kingdom and kingship.

Kingdom and Kingship

The People Proclaim

The language in verse 9 is unmistakeable. First of all this Hosanna… Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!is drawn right from Psalm 118. Hosanna is a exclamation of praise and it literally means Save us!So the people are quoting Psalm 118.

Psalm 118:25-26

Save us, we pray, O Lord!
O Lord, we pray, give us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We bless you from the house of the Lord.

This crowd believes they were welcoming Gods salvation. And they add the words, to the Son of David.This crowd understood that Gods salvation would come through the promised Messiah, the Son of David. They understood that the Old Testament prophecies said the Messiah would come from the line of David. And they were drawing from many Old Testament texts. For example,

2 Samuel 7:16

And your house [speaking to David] and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.

Isaiah 11:1

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

So they see this Jesus who had been preaching, repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,and had done the mighty acts of healing the diseased and afflicted, He had feed thousands, He had preached with authority, and now He was riding into Jerusalem on a donkey they understand that this was meant to fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9.

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

So the crowd is hailing Jesus as He enters Jerusalem as the Messianic King promised by God to Israel who would restore Israel and usher in justice and righteousness and peace from this time forth and forevermore. There no mistake here they believed that this man was the longed for savior.

Jesus proclaims

And notice that Jesus Himself openly accepts the declarations of the people. In fact, this section makes plain that Jesus was in fact seeking to demonstrate for all to see that He was claiming to be the promised Messiah and King. There is no question about what Jesus is doing here. He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey in order to fulfill Zechariah 9 – precisely to make this statement. And the text says in verse 10 -14,

And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, Who is this?And the crowds said, This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money – changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer,but you make it a den of robbers. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.

The people are not mistaking Jesusintention here. Jesus is proclaiming loud and clear, Behold, your king has come, righteous and having salvation!” But, if we needed any more evidence that this is Jesusagenda, in verses 15 and 16 we read,

But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, Hosanna to the Son of David!they were indignant [angry/annoyed], and they said to him, Do you hear what these are saying?

The chief priest and scribes are like, What are you doing man?!? Do you realize that these people think you are claiming to be the Messiah?” In Luke it records for us that they tell Jesus to rebuke these followers, tell them to stop this nonsense. Do you hear what these are saying?

The end of verse 16,

And Jesus said to them, Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise?

Jesus isnt about to stop them from shouting, because what they are shouting is exactly right! The people got the message Jesus was sending: Behold, your king has come!

Expectations and Disappointments

The only problem was, the people didnt understand the things they were shouting about. The words coming out of their mouths were true. The Messiah and King had come. But their expectations about what the Messiah and King would do and accomplish were missing an absolutely crucial element. What they expected the Messiah to do, Jesus had not come to do – at least not in the way they thought.

The tragedy is that the Messianic hope for many in Israel had been diminished down to a shadow of its true glory. The glory and power and might of the King and His kingdom and the salvation He came to accomplish had been reduced in the thinking of many in Israel to a hollow shell of the real thing.

Many in Israel were hoping for a political revolution. They wanted freedom from foreign oppression. They wanted Rome out and they wanted to possess the land God had given to His people forever. They wanted to reestablish the geo-political kingdom of Israel with power and glory – as in the days of Solomon when the glory of Israel was the envy of the nations. They wanted prosperity. They wanted their fig trees to blossom and fruit on the vine. They wanted the produce of their olive to thrive and their fields to succeed. They wanted flocks and herds. They wanted strength and blessing and peace.

This, they believed, was what the Messiah should have brought. So, when they were shouting, Hosanna to the Son of David!they were thinking that He would be the one deliver all of this.

But the carpenter from Nazareth brought none of those things – at least not like they thought. In fact His activities and claims were likely to bring more difficulty for Israel not less.

It is incredible that as this crowd is quoting from Psalm 118 verses 25-26 on this Palm Sunday, the leaders are at the same time fulfilling Psalm 118 verse 22.

Psalm 118:22

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

And in just a few short days this crowd will be joining their leaders in rejecting the cornerstone and they will be shouting out, Crucify him!

They rightly identified the Messiah, but He was not the Messiah they expected. He disappointed them and they rejected Him. He did not do what they wanted Him to do. He was a failure. And all the joy that this crowd felt at His arrival turned to rage when He did not meet their expectations. Hes fake. Hes a fraud. Hes a phony. Hes a failure. He a fool. Away with this man. We hate the sight of him. A murderer is more tolerable than this fraud! He brought none of the things he promised! Crucify him!

The Nature of the King and His Work

Why was the cornerstone rejected? Why was Gods perfect provision despised?

It was because the leaders of Israel and this crowd failed to see the depths of their poverty. They failed to see the true enemy and how radically they themselves were enslaved. They were not simply oppressed by Roman swords and soldiers, they were enslaved to sin and they were children of the Devil, just like the rest of mankind. But to this deep poverty and slavery they were completely blind.

Their problem was not that they were without political power or gold and silver, but that they were impoverished toward God along with the rest of mankind. They were blind to the fact that they lacked the righteousness without which no one will see the Lord because they believed that they had it in themselves to establish that righteousness through the Law.

They did not know how sick they were and so they did not see their own need for a physician. They misdiagnosed what ailed them. They did not see their need for a New and Better Covenant. They did not see their need for a better priesthood to offer a better sacrifice. They did not see the weakness or purpose of the Law given at Sinai. They did not see the need for a spiritual re-birth or the need to have the Spirit of God engraved on the tablets of their hearts. They failed to see the spiritual nature of the Kingdom God and they had set their hope on shadows rather than on the substance. They were concerned about the outside of the cup when the inside was filthy.

The kingdom of God is not defined by the outward and physical.

The people wanted and outward and physical salvation. But God had sent a Savior to save from a far more significant problem.

The Messiah did not ride in with the strength of an amy on stallions.  He rode in on a donkey, lowly and humble (Matthew 21:5). He brought with Him no external glory. The Son of David was the King who died under a curse, rejected and despised. The Master came, but not to be served. He came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. Yes, He did come as the King triumphant and He did do battle with our enemies, but not in the way we thought! The true glory of the kingdom was only available to us after the suffering of the Righteous and Holy One.

Of course the outward and physical is not a challenge for our God – recall: creation, the flood, barren wombs made fruitful, plagues, pillars of clouds and fire, parting the Red Sea, bitter water made sweet, bread from heaven, and on and on. And yes, He will bring consummation and final fulness soon enough, but the rescue that Jesus accomplished was the needed victory over sin and death. He was restoring Life to wicked and undeserving, dead humanity. He was getting us to glory, who dont deserve to be there.

If He had come with judgement and sword as Israel wanted rather than in mercy and service none of them would ever have entered that glory – and neither would we.

So He did come to conquer. He did come to heal the deepest wounds. He came to restore the years that the locust had eaten. He came to establish real and lasting peace and to rescue a people who had been in chains of deep darkness. He came to transfer them to His Kingdom were they will shine with His righteousness forever.

The great Lord and Master over all did not come on a stallion or with a sword (Praise God!), but in lowliness and humility and love to save and to rescue by being the required sacrifice for our sins. He came to suffer in order to bring many sons to glory. He came first to do battle with sin and death and the Devil and to make a people worthy of the kingdom.

And this is the age of filling the kingdom with ransomed souls. This is why the final glory has not yet come – because God is gathering the citizens of the kingdom. It is the patience and grace of God that delays the final consummation so that many may enter through Jesus Christ the Righteous and Holy One.

Expectations and Disappointments

Israels expectations failed to account for their true need: salvation from sin and death. They failed to see that the glory of the kingdom is know God Himself, to be with Him in righteousness.  The question for us is this: What are our expectations of the Messiah?

Do we grasp the nature of the kingdom of God? Do we grasp the nature of our need?Do we know that this is the hour of grace?

I wonder if we understand the things were shouting about today. I believe there are times that we expect Him to ride in on a stallion with sword in hand and defeat all our earthly problems. We expect the external, outward, and physical glory of health and restoration and prosperity. And when we dont experience that in our lives do our shouts of joy turn to shouts of rage?

There is glory in being a ransomed child of God today, but that glory is not seen by the world. The world looks at us today celebrating a so called king riding on a donkey to die a brutal death on a cross as foolishness and a Jew looks at this bloodied king as an offense. But to those who are called, from both the Jews and the Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

If we look only at the present earthly results of the King’ work and expect the work of our King to mean prosperity now and external glory now and consummation now we will be disappointed our whole life through.

But if we see the work of the King in its true glory and understand why the delay, why Jesus did not come into Jerusalem with a sword, – if we see why, we will persevere in faith until He returns. The fullness is coming!

Our King did the hardest thing already. He purchased us for God at Calvary. We can have confident hope that our citizenship is in heaven, in the kingdom where righteousness and peace will never end and soon He will return to bring us to be with Him there.

But we live in an age when the kingdom is growing as we proclaim this message of salvation in Jesus Christ and people are saved from every nation and are added to the eternal kingdoms citizenry. But the glory is not yet seen with the eyes. There is no external glory to be seen yet. And it is because God is full of grace. This is the age when the citizens of heaven follow their King in sufferings and sacrifice in order that many might enter the kingdom with us.

What is Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday is a day to remember the glory of Christ and the true nature of His kingdom. It is a day to reorient ourselves Godward and a day to shout with joy and with understanding, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

A true celebration of Palm Sunday will be a recognition of and a love for the King in His true nature and intention. And it will be to recognize that because of our King’s work we are sons and heirs of the eternal kingdom that cannot be shaken. But it will also be to recognize that as citizens of heaven and servants of the King, we have a ministry of suffering to attend to. We too have an earthly ministry to complete. We are not the Messiah, but we are His servants, His heralds. We have a message for the world: Behold now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day if salvation!(2 Corinthians 6:2)

Jesus did not bring the sword and an army ready to bloody the nations, instead He came to be bloodied for the nations.

And we, His people, must understand that this is not the hour to expect consummation. This is still the hour of reconciliation. This is not yet the hour when sinners are made to face the final judgment, rather now are the precious moments when sinners are justified by faith is Christ. The fulness of the kingdom is coming, but here and now it grows and advances and heals and restores – not by any earthly power of men but by the power of the Word and Spirit as salvation in Jesus Christ is proclaimed to all people.

What are your expectations of Jesusministry in this world today? Power and glory and honor and praise in this world? or do you see that now it is time to suffer and be humiliated and rejected for the advancement of Christs kingdom in this world.

In his book, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke JC Ryle said,

The Lord Jesus, we should remark, did not tarry long on the Mount of Olives. His communion with Moses and Elijah was very short. He soon returned to his accustomed work of doing good to a sin-stricken world. In His life on earth, to receive honor and have visions of glory was the exception. To minister to others, to heal all who were oppressed by the devil, to do acts of mercy to sinners, was the rule. Happy are those Christians who have learned of Jesus to live for others more than for themselves, and who understand that is is ‘more blessed to give than to receive.”

Palm Sunday is about hailing our King, receiving His work by faith, and becoming like Him in this world as we wait for His return. We have an earthly ministry to attend to – not to receive honor and glory and praise here, but to be despised and rejected if necessary, to be strangers and aliens, to take up our cross and follow His to Calvary so that many others will be reconciled to their God through Jesus Christ.

Are we more about securing comforts in this world or about doing whatever necessary to secure the comfort of others forever? Are we more about the rewards of retirement in this world or about the eternal rewards kept for us in heaven? Are we more about protecting and preserving our lives in this world or about laying it down that others may live? Are we about building cheap and temporary kingdoms here or about receiving the kingdom that cannot be shaken?

May the brokenness and weakness of our Savior not be foolish or an offense to us.

Now we see only a tiny seed buried in the ground, but when it is grown it will be a mighty  and fruitful tree. Now we suffer and die but soon the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father because our King has accomplished our salvation!

Let us rejoice: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

~ Andy

About Andrew Murray
Andrew “Andy” Murray was born and raised in New Hampshire. His father, pastor Loren Murray, served Fellowship Bible Church in Chester, NH. At six years of age Andy trusted in Jesus Christ and was baptized. He was brought up “acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” At the age of 12 his father was in a fatal car accident. Reflecting on the loss of his dad Andy writes; “I see now the wise and loving hand of Christ in my life, as He used this event to, shape, mold and press me toward Himself. It was this event that sparked in me an earnest desire to know God from His Word. By His grace, this desire has continued to grow.” Andy met his wife, Elizabeth, at Philadelphia Biblical University (now Cairn University). They have four wonderful boys. Visit Windham Bible Chapel.