Hold in the fore of your preaching mind the fact of the resurrection. A new world has dawned. The world’s rightful King has taken His throne and He is spoiling the “strong man’s house,” by ransoming humanity. A new king, new kingdom, new creation… all emerging out of the old. Keep that in mind when you encounter the key-word in 1 Peter 1:17-25 which comes in verse 18, “ransomed.”
Peter takes his cue from the implications of the atonement and resurrection: we have been “bought back” from the old world and its old ways and lords. We are no longer under the futile lordship of sin, Satan and death. We are not captive to a decaying and dying world. We have been ransomed from that existence into a new one. In the old world, we were given, Peter says, to “futile practices” like greed, wealth, lust, fame, status, self-aggrandizement… you name it. But Jesus Christ has come into the world we made and paid the ultimate “buy-back” price for us: The precious blood of God, poured onto Golgotha. Peter is thinking here of the sacrificial lamb sacrificed at the Jewish festival of Passover, marking the moment when God “bought back” His people Israel from their abusive slavery in Egypt. Now, declares Peter, the sacrificial death of Jesus has “ransomed” us, too. That is why Jesus was sent in the first place. In fact, it has always been God’s intention. And, now, having been ransomed, we can participate in the purpose of our creation.
Hence verse 17, where Peter admonishes every soul baptized into Christ Jesus to strive for the new life by the Spirit, resulting in a radically new morality, the ethic of Christ’s Kingdom. That is the new normal. The old way, its lords and longings, is the monstrosity. It is really this simple. You must own the fact that your spirit was resurrected in baptism in a way akin to Christ’s bodily resurrection. You are a new creation. Think in a new way. Behave in accordance with your renewal. You have been redeemed, ransomed. The old lord, the old captivity has no claim on you.
You must own the fact that your spirit was resurrected in baptism in a way akin to Christ’s bodily resurrection. You are a new creation.
The old state was “ignorance.” Now, because of Christ and through holy baptism, there has been an illumination. A Christian may know who he/she is and what they have been made for. Agreeably, the Book of Hebrews and the ancient Church referred to baptism as an enlightening: eyes wide open! You have been cleaned up (sanctified) for a much finer use; a use which was your original intention. This original intention was to image-forth and witness to the divine life: God’s rule in and through us.
Along with your new life, graphically and meaningfully signaled by the deeply symbolic sacrament of baptism, Peter wants us to recognize you also have a new responsibility, to live in obedience to God our King. As has often been said, the indicative of God’s grace in Christ (You have been redeemed; You are a new creation) precedes the imperative of God’s commands (Walk in the way of the Lord). That means holiness: being set apart for God in every part and at every level, living it out in the here and now. The life of holiness will overtake the world on the last day. Practice living in the coming world now. This vocation will be reinforced as you look to the future, both to the glorious hope of what will happen when Jesus is personally revealed at last (verse 13) and to the coming judgment in which God will be the impartial Judge of what every has done (verse 17).
The Christian who has been born of water and the Spirit must live, in fact, as a child of God. Since the child shares in the character and name of the Father, the Christian life is to conform to God the Father’s moral standard. But the good news goes further. We do not have to do it on our own strength. We have been given the Holy Spirit, the power of love, obedience, truth and holiness. And there is more. When and where we fail along every step of the way, the Lord has provided the grace of forgiveness, the reminder of the Gospel, the refreshment of Holy Communion, and the comfort of confession and absolution. In this intimate relationship, the believer is both informed by Scripture and empowered by the Spirit within the Church of Christ to live a new way of life that will not invoke God’s condemnation in the time of judgment. Peter’s point is this: To continue to live in one’s former ways is implicitly to deny the value of Christ’s death, indeed, the power of His resurrection, and the reality to which you have been restored. Luther basically reiterates Peter’s point: Remember your baptism because it comes with living in the power and light and truth of the Gospel. It is what gives us security, hope, meaning, endurance, and comfort. It says to us, see, just as God said, you are a new creation in Christ Jesus.
This is why we, as Christians, who know we are not getting out of this life alive and perhaps with persecution, should fear no evil, fear not what death brings, because we know that the resurrection has begun in us—first our spirits then our bodies. What matters now is keeping our eyes fixed on the One who has, “bought us back,” sanctified us, and already begun to put us to new use in accord with His kingdom’s ethic and purposes. That is what it means for the baptized to believe in, “the God who raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him glory,” placing Him in authority over all things and, further, for us to have, “faith and hope in God” (verse 21).
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in I Peter 1:17-25.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach I Peter 1:17-25.