This book is going to take you somewhere you may not necessarily want to go on your own, you may be tempted to resist going to the cross and so I thought I should probably remind you of why this is so important.
It is not my words or ideas, it is Peter’s.
This letter was written by Peter.
We know that because it says so and the early church did not accept a book just because someone named Peter claimed to have written it. It was careful and rejected other letters that claimed to be written by Peter but weren’t.
And Peter was no ordinary person, he was a very important figure in the early church.
A disciple of Christ.
Pretty serious about spiritual things.
One of John the Baptist’s disciples originally.
Until Jesus called him out of his fishing boat to follow him.
Which he of course did, later becoming the unofficial leader of the disciples.
We know that because, for one thing, his name is always at the head of lists of disciples.
He belonged to Jesus’ inner circle.
Throughout the gospels, he is portrayed. He was the spokesman for the 12.
Jesus even sometimes speaks to him as the representative of the rest of the disciples.
Of Jesus’ disciples, the one we know the most about is Peter.
We can trace Peter’s career for 30 years after Jesus’ death, he is on view longer than any other person in the New Testament, arguably reading this letter, we are reading the letter of the most important figure in the New Testament apart from Jesus.
Bold print arguably.
But even more significantly, in terms of why you should listen to this letter I suppose is because of how Peter identifies himself here at the beginning of this letter.
Peter, an apostle.
He is not just an important figure, Peter was an apostle of Jesus Christ which means that he was an authorized representative of Jesus Christ. Reading this letter we are not only reading the words of an important person, we are reading the very words of God.
But maybe as an encouragement, I can just add this as a sort of footnote, we are also reading the words of a person who really struggled with this question of suffering for righteousness throughout his life.
I don’t know if it is fair but you sometimes read Paul and what he says about suffering and you are a little bit intimidated by Paul because he just seems to always get it right; but Peter he is a little different, he really struggled with understanding suffering.
For example in the gospels we see that he had a really difficult time understanding how God’s chosen one could suffer. To the point where after Jesus begins to teach the disciples in Mark 8 that he had to suffer, be rejected and die, stating the matter plainly according to Mark, Peter takes Jesus aside and actually rebukes Jesus. This whole idea of God’s chosen one suffering was so hard for Peter to understand that he actually at one point rebuked Jesus about it.
And you know he struggled with understanding how to respond to suffering and rejection and persecution himself. His first response when the soldiers came to get Jesus was to pull out his sword and attack, he responded to violence with violence. Later though, and not very much later, he became so afraid in the face of potential persecution that he started denying Jesus to everybody he could, even little servant girls were scaring him actually; so this is a man who really struggled with this whole issue of suffering for doing what was right.
He’s not like me, you know talking about being willing to suffer for doing what was right from the comfort of my lazy-boy; this is a man who lived his life in the heat of the battle, failed sometimes and then in the end through God’s grace triumphed in a major way, trusting God in the midst of suffering to the point of dying a martyr’s death, according to tradition crucified, asking actually to be crucified upside down as a honor to his Savior Jesus Christ. If there is anyone who you want to share God’s answer with you about how to handle the suffering that comes to your life, especially the kind of suffering that comes as a result of doing what is right, I think it would be someone like Peter, someone speaking the very words of God, but also someone who struggled himself to understand those words but who eventually, again through God’s grace, really lived out every word he preached.