In our time together last week we took a long look at the “inexpressible and glorious joy” that is a gift from God for those who are followers of Jesus. This indescribable joy is not the result of happy days, good fortune, or something that we have done, but it is the result of the salvation that God has freely given us through the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

That word, “salvation,” is an irritating word to so many people because we don’t feel like we need saving, we believe we are doing quite well on our own thank you. Other people may need Jesus, but I’m quite capable of taking care of myself. Another reason why the idea of salvation is irritating or offensive to many people is because the vast majority of people believe that they are good people at heart, not irreparably marred by sin, even though they would never claim to be perfect, and certainly not sinners who are opposed to God at their core. Because of beliefs like these, people tend to get offended when they hear the Bible declare that we are hopeless sinners who are powerless to do anything that would ever make us acceptable to God.

In our Scripture for this morning we are going to take a long look at salvation and learn some eye-opening truths that Peter lays out for those chosen exiles who are scattered and living under Roman rule. These truths are equally applicable and powerful for you chosen exiles who are living here in America. Before we jump into 1 Peter 1:10-12, let’s backtrack just for a moment.

Life for those who received this letter from Peter was very uncertain. They were persecuted because of their love for Jesus, they were outcasts in their own community, and life was difficult. In verses 3-5, Peter reminded them of the greatness and absolute certainty of their future inheritance in Christ. They had been given “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.” In 1 Peter 1:6-9, Peter teaches them that their salvation, their new life in Christ, results in an “inexpressible and glorious joy” that is not caused by good fortune and can never be diminished because of the fiery trials of life. Right after Peter tells them of this joy that is provided for those who are followers of Jesus, he writes,

8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:8-12 NIV)

When we understand what God has done for us in Jesus, that He has saved us by His grace, cleansed us from the sin that separates us from God, and gives us the assurance that He will return for us one day–how could we not be filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy that nothing in this life can ever take away! 

In verses 10-12, Peter wants to shine a spotlight on the glory of God’s salvation for those who were going through difficult trials in life. I don’t think there is anyone here this morning who would call themselves “privileged” while they are going through experiences of pain, sorrow, persecution, and heartache in life.  This is why our Scripture for this morning is so important for you and me to not only read, but to look at intently, long and hard, and to take into our hearts this most important truth from God. Read verses 10-11 with me. 

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. (1 Peter 1:10-11 NIV)

Peter points out that the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Daniel, and Jonah “spoke of the grace that was to come to you…” There are a couple of very interesting things I would like to point out for us to consider about these prophets. All of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament as we call it, lived long before any of the people in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, or Bithynia were ever born. Yet, Peter tells them that all of the prophets “spoke of the grace that was to come to you…”

Peter writes that the prophets “searched intently and with the greatest care” trying to know the circumstances and the time of the coming of the Messiah, His sufferings “and the glories that would follow.” That is the most incredible statement! If you read the prophets of the Old Testament you will notice that they speak of a Redeemer, Someone who will come to save us. They knew that it would happen because God had given them the message, but they didn’t know “when.” In the words of Peter, they didn’t know the “time and circumstances” of which they were speaking. So what did they do? They “searched intently and with the greatest care” trying to understand and learn more about the Deliverer that God would send. They knew He would suffer, but glory would follow, but they didn’t know the full story of when and how God would work through Him. We can learn a piece of the Deliverer’s story from the prophet Micah, when he wrote,

2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” 3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. 4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. (Micah 5:2-4 NIV)

The Deliverer would be born in Bethlehem, a small, nothing of a village in Micah’s day. If we were going to pick a place for the Deliverer, the Savior to be born, it would have to be some great city of the world, but God would bring forth His Redeemer from a place nobody would even consider. This Deliverer’s origins were “from of old, from ancient times.” The Bible teaches that Jesus was God incarnate, God come to us in Jesus. 

Also, if we were going to raise up a mighty Deliverer, He would be more like a Hollywood hero than One who suffered and was crucified. Yet, we read in Psalm 22,

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. 15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. 17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. 19 But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. (Psalm 22:14-19 NIV)

Did any of the descriptions I just read remind you of anyone? “My mouth is dried up like a potsherd…my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.” As Jesus hung on the cross, He said, “I thirst.” “They pierce my hands and feet.” This is the very description of how Jesus was nailed to the cross. They drove spikes through His hands and feet. Let me give you one more phrase which isn’t in the verses we read, but is found in the first verse of Psalm 22.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? (Psalm 22:1 NIV)

These words were written by King David who lived in 1000 B.C. Most people believe King Darius of Persia first used crucifixion as a way to punish his enemies in 519 B.C. Jesus wasn’t born for almost one thousand years after David wrote Psalm 22. David couldn’t have understood all of the details and implications of what he wrote, but he understood that God was going to send a Suffering Savior to save His people. David may not have had a full understanding of what he was writing, but we do, because we know that as Jesus hung on the cross, He cried out,

46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matthew 27:46 NIV)

The idea of a Suffering Savior made no sense to people who were suffering and were looking for a gladiator-like conqueror who would come in and defeat all of their enemies. But through the prophets, God described His Anointed One, His coming Deliverer as One who would suffer. The Lord gave Isaiah the clearest description of this Suffering Servant King in Isaiah 53. Let me give a little background before we read it. 

Each Sabbath the Jews read a portion of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible written by Moses. Following the Torah reading, they have a reading of the Haftarah, a selection from the prophets. Isaiah 53 used to be a part of the Haftarah reading, but somewhere along the way it was excluded, never to be read again in synagogues. What is it about Isaiah 53 that led to its being taken out of the Haftarah readings? Well, in Isaiah 53, the prophet Isaiah writes about the Messiah. He writes that He would be rejected by His people, that He would suffer and die, that His suffering and death would be an atonement for the sins of all people, and God would raise Him from the dead. 

According to Eitan Bar, who is an Israeli Bible scholar and also a follower of Jesus, the chapter caused such arguments and confusion for the rabbis that they took it out. So, when the Jews read the Haftarah, going through Isaiah, they read Isaiah 52 one week and then skip to Isaiah 54 the next week. Eitan Bar calls Isaiah 53, the “forbidden chapter.” Let’s read it together.

1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. 11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:1-12 NIV)

When I was working with Dr. Darnell in Plano, Texas there was a Jewish doctor who heard about a Gentile pastor who knew Hebrew better than most Jewish people. He wanted to meet Dr. Darnell. The two men met in David’s office and they talked about the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish people’s history. The doctor said he would like it if Dr. Darnell would read his Bible with him, in Hebrew. David said he would love to. He asked which book he would like to read? The doctor said, “Let’s read the prophet Isaiah.” They met each week to read and talk about what they had read. After they finished reading Isaiah 53, David asked the doctor, “Who is the prophet speaking about?” They had a long conversation about the possibilities of who the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 might be before the doctor left David’s office. A few weeks later the doctor showed up at David’s office with a carving of an eagle and on the nameplate it had Isaiah 40:31. 

31 Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

The doctor gave it to David as a gift. Then the doctor said, “I want to thank you. It is because of you that I now know who the prophet Isaiah was speaking about. He was speaking about the Messiah and it is because of you that I now know that Jesus is God’s Messiah, my Messiah.” There is something unique about God’s Suffering Servant, the Messiah. We can find it in verse 5. Read it with me.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NIV)

“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Jesus, God’s Messiah, suffered and died not because of anything He had done. He willingly took on your sins and my sins and offered His sinless life as an offering, an atonement offering for our reconciliation with God. I’ve known that truth for many years now and yet it still overwhelms me with gratitude and humbles me like nothing I can describe. 

I want us to go back to 1 Peter 1:10 just for a moment. Peter says, “Concerning this salvation” and then he writes about the prophets “who spoke of the grace that was to come to you.”  The way we understand that word “grace” and the Bible’s definition of “grace” are worlds apart. When we think of grace we think of doing something kind for someone. I heard someone describing biblical grace this past week. He said, “Grace is not giving the homeless man on the street corner some money. That is called empathy or generosity. Grace, according to the Bible, would look more like this: Let’s say there is a man who has attacked you, stolen from you, smeared your name across town, and desired nothing more than your own demise and destruction. You find the man and instead of giving him what he deserves, you bring him into your home and make him part of your family.” I know that sounds insane. I know none of us would ever think of doing that, but this is exactly the grace that God has extended to you and me through offering His sinless Son’s life for our sinful lives. Paul put it this way in Romans. 

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:8-10 NIV)

While we were in rebellion against God, thumbing our nose at Him, and mocking Him–God did the unimaginable, He sent His Son to pay what we owed but could never pay to make things right with God. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection the door has been opened for you and me, all people across the world, to be reconciled with God through receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior. 

Have you ever read the book, Les Miserables, written by Victor Hugo? Victor Hugo was from France and he wrote the book in 1862. The book has been turned into movies, plays, and musicals that have been watched by people all across the world. You can travel to New York City tomorrow and get tickets to see Les Miserables on Broadway. There is a reason why Hugo’s story has resonated with people for over 150 years. 

In the story, Jean Valjean was released from prison after serving a nineteen-year sentence for breaking a window pane to steal a loaf of bread for his sister’s child who was close to dying from starvation. When he was released from prison, Javert, the prison official, reminded him that he will always be a felon and known only to the state by the number 24601. As Jean Valjean begins his new life outside of prison, Javert’s words haunt him as he wanders from place to place and learns that he is an outcast in society.  No one would take him in.

Jean Valjean’s heart was growing bitter and hard. One day he knocked on the door of the bishop, a man who was a humble Christian priest and became a bishop of the church. The bishop opened his door to Jean Valjean and offered him a meal of bread and wine. In the musical, Jean Valjean sings, “you are good; you don’t despise me. You take me into your house; you light your candles for me, and I haven’t hid from you where I come from, and how miserable I am.” The bishop responded by saying, “You need not tell me who you are. This is not my house; it is the house of Christ. It does not ask any comer whether he has a name, but whether he has an affliction. You are suffering; you are hungry and thirsty; be welcome . . . Your name is my brother.”

The next morning when the bishop woke up he learned that Jean Valjean had left his home in the middle of the night and when he left he took with him the bishop’s silver utensils. The next day two policemen saw Jean Valjean and thought he looked suspicious. When they questioned him they found the silver. Jean Valjean lied and told the police the bishop had given it all to him. When they took him back to the bishop’s house they expected the bishop to confirm their suspicion. Instead, the bishop flung open the door and with a big smile of excitement said,

‘Ah! here you are!’ he exclaimed, looking at Jean Valjean. ‘I am glad to see you. Well, but how is this? I gave you the candlesticks too, which are of silver like the rest, and for which you can certainly get two hundred francs. Why did you not carry them away with your forks and spoons?’ Jean Valjean opened his eyes wide, and stared at the venerable Bishop with an expression which no human tongue can render any account of. (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

You see, the look on Jean Valjean’s face when he encountered grace is the same look that should come across all of our faces when we encounter the grace of our Savior who flings open wide the doors of salvation and opens wide His arms for sinners like you and me. Sinners, who are deserving of God’s wrath and so undeserving of His grace. After the police questioned the bishop to make sure Jean Valjean was telling the truth, the bishop spoke to Jean Valjean once again.

‘Now,’ said the Bishop, ‘go in peace. By the way, when you return, my friend, it is not necessary to pass through the garden. You can always enter and depart through the street door. It is never fastened with anything but a latch, either by day or by night.’ (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables).

That, my friend, is the grace of God. Grace is found in Jesus and what He has done for people like you and like me. The glorious grace of salvation bought with Jesus’ own blood to unlock the prison doors which held you and me in, and which the prophets longed to fully understand. 

Can I share just one more piece of the mystery which the prophets of so long ago proclaimed about the salvation of God and the Suffering Messiah who would bring God’s salvation to those who trust in Him? God called the Jews to be His Chosen people. They misunderstood exactly what that meant. God was not choosing them to be a privileged people, but a nation of servants to proclaim the good news of God’s plan for all of humanity, throughout the world. In Isaiah 49:6-7, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah with about what His Messiah would accomplish.

6 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” 7 This is what the LORD says– the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel– to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” (Isaiah 49:6-7 NIV)

The Messiah would be a “light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” I can remember talking with some of my Chinese brothers and sisters when we first started doing Alpha in Chinese. They told me they thought Jesus was an American God. China is officially an atheistic nation, but there are more Buddhists in China, about 10%, than Christians, about 1% of the population. The reason why the Chinese people have been led to believe that Jesus is an American God is because they are not allowed to read the Bible. God made Jesus a light to the Gentiles! In Bible times there were only two groups of people: Jews and Gentiles. So, if you are sitting here this morning and you are not Jewish, you are a Gentile, and God has made Jesus a light to you. It is because of Jesus that God’s salvation is reaching to the furthest corners of the earth. 

Our time is up and we must go, but before we do I want to ask you, “Do you realize that what we have just been talking about is what the prophets of so long ago, yearned to know?” They knew God was going to send a Savior, but because you and I live on this side of Jesus’ death and resurrection and because we have the eye-witness accounts of those who were there, men like Peter, we are the most blessed of all people. With such information as this, would you not want this very morning to receive God’s gift of Jesus as your Savior? Won’t you call out to Him this morning and say, “Thank you Jesus for dying for me so that I might be reconciled and made right with God!”

Mike Hays 

Britton Christian Church

922 NW 91st

OKC, OK. 73114

February 18, 2024

“Concerning This Salvation…”
1 Peter 1:10-12
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