The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Peter’s Proclamation of our Blessed Hope

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The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Peter’s Proclamation of our Blessed Hope

 

Society’s preoccupation with the extraterrestrial and the supernatural touches a multitude of life experiences. Consider the yearly box office ticket sales of the multi-media franchises, curiosity with space exploration, and the burgeoning interest in psychic experiences.[1] Beyond, but inclusive of the spiritualistic leanings of much of the human search for the unknown is the influence it has on how people perceive the Revelation of Jesus Christ.[2] I mean compare the gospel accounts of Jesus’ acts (which are extraordinary) with much of the supernaturalism of movie characters (which is tantamount to super human strength but without a depth of love for the victims of injustice or a realistic exploration of the problematic character of human nature). The revelatory nature of the Word of God portrays Jesus’ interactions with people that give a depth of analysis of the internal wrestling’s of sinful hearts.[3] The unasked question is, to what end is supernatural intervention in any venue? And while most people don’t think of their search for the supernatural as a vehicle for worship, what humans deem worthy of worship (reverence, adoration) is constantly being changed by a broad swath of engagement from academia to entertainment’s varied expressions[4] that generate metanarratives[5] or life stories.

However, what Peter reminds us of is that what Jesus did and does is real and for communicating His love, mercy, salvation, and hope in relationship (2 Peter 1:16). To the extent that we understand and admit the depths of our sin and need, and more importantly surrendering to Christ’s Lordship (teachings, sacrificial ministry, and resurrection power) provides us with supernatural contact beyond what can be manufactured by finite minds (2 Peter 1:4). That relationship is what best helps us to make sense of the real world we live in (1 Peter 3:22). It also helps us avoid the mindless escapism of most belief systems in order to serve humanity in the best way without fanfare where God gets the glory. Besides, what these futile attempts of contact with the supernatural without divine revelation do is give a false sense of exhilaration without addressing the real problems of life (poverty, terrorism) and human nature (pride, selfishness, etc.); basically, everything wrong in the world. Jesus gives us a lifelong friendship that will go on for eternity and His presence in our lives gives us character growth in grace that enables us to live selflessly to address the real problems of the world as He addresses the real problem of our hearts.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ and Worldview

Speaking of alternatives to a Christian worldview of the supernatural, have you ever noticed that in most non-Christian worldviews,[6] evil (moral, intellectual, or natural) is almost always something that must be conquered, whether (1) religiously (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam[7]), or (2) secularly, by contemplation (Platonic thought, Mysticism), by habit (Aristotelian virtue ethics), or by activity (environmentalism, climate activism, etc.)? While each of these expressions has positive things that are not antithetical to Christian belief,[8] the gulf between the two rests on Who Jesus is, What Jesus did on earth, Why Jesus came, What Jesus is doing right now, and What Jesus will do in the future. What evil is and how Jesus deals with it is the central connecting link through which all other biblical doctrines converge; Adventists call this the Great Controversy. A motif that pervades Scripture from Creation to Resurrection. Peter’s laser focus is on how our Savior, deals with the problem of evil, our evil, through a real relationship that creates real solutions to life’s problems.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ- The Second Coming and Resurrection

Peter frequently uses the modifier “of Jesus Christ” to bring reality into perspective.[9] His two most frequent uses are (1) the Revelation of Jesus Christ and (2) the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the two are interconnected. For Peter, these two aspects set Jesus apart from every other means of supernatural encounter.

First, the Revelation of Christ is a special event; a consummation of a relationship of trust, faith, and obedience to Jesus (1:2). In 1 Peter 1:7, Peter shows that the Revelation of Jesus Christ (His second coming[10]) gives present human life meaning and focus. The old negro spiritual “If I can help somebody, as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain”[11] captures succinctly what Peter means when he reflects on the genuineness of faith. Its veracity can only be shown at the Revelation of Christ. Peter’s focus on the Resurrection of Christ is that it was the pivotal birthing into a supernatural connection with God (1:4), into an eternal inheritance. So, the Resurrection of Christ is like a womb from which a living hope is born. Resurrection presupposes a death; Christ’s sacrifice. Any search for meaning in the supernatural that does not have Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary at its center is a dead dream, and actually a nightmare. For as Paul said, if Christ is not raised [presupposing a death] our faith is in vain, we are still in our sins, and we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:14–19).

Second, the Revelation of Christ in His second coming can only rightly be understood considering the first (1:10–12) as its prediction and proclamation were supernaturally supervised by the Holy Spirit. In 1:10–13, Peter focuses on the sufferings of Christ and its subsequent glories that will only be fully revealed at the Revelation (2nd coming) of Christ. Later, in 3:18–21, Peter comes back to Christ’s sufferings and connects it with the work of the Spirit again and the proclamation of salvation in Noah’s day, this time focusing on baptism, which he compares to salvation in the ark from the worldwide judgment executed in the flood. What will save us from the final worldwide execution of judgment? Being born again to a new life through the Resurrection of Christ symbolized in baptism (cf. Rom 6:1–14). So, the Second Coming deals with the problem of evil in its finality and the Resurrection of Christ provided the foundation upon which every future hope in this life and the next is built on.

Ellen White ties the two together beautifully,

“The voice that cried from the cross, “It is finished,” was heard among the dead. It pierced the walls of sepulchers, and summoned the sleepers to arise. Thus will it be when the voice of Christ shall be heard from heaven. That voice will penetrate the graves and unbar the tombs, and the dead in Christ shall arise. At the Saviour’s resurrection a few graves were opened, but at His second coming all the precious dead shall hear His voice, and shall come forth to glorious, immortal life. The same power that raised Christ from the dead will raise His church, and glorify it with Him, above all principalities, above all powers, above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world to come.” DA, 787.

Read the Sabbath School Lesson for this week, “Jesus in the Writings of Peter.”

Read more commentaries on this quarter’s Adult Sabbath School lesson.

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Notes.

[1] The notion of mimesis (imitation) is fundamental to personal conviction of how reality is perceived that spans from Plato to Postmodernism. The perennial question is does our search for meaning mirror external realities (natural or supernatural)? See Louis Markos, From Plato to Postmodernism: Understanding the Essence of Literature and the Role of the Author (The Great Courses Audio Lecture series; Chantilly, VA: Teaching Co., 1999). Modern understandings of media include a plethora of genre’s inclusive of visual, audio, and kinesthetic mediums in that search for meaning. For an example of this multi-faceted interconnected mimesis, consider franchises such as Star Trek, Star Wars, and Marvel Comics, their soundtracks, and its derivative Cosplay phenomena.

[2] Even in our Christian context that revelation is a mystery (1 Timothy 3:16).

[3] Matthew 9:4; Mark 2:6; Luke 3:15; 5:22.

[4] Visual media through Computer-generated imagery (CGI) helps create or contributes to images in art, printed media, video games, films, television programs, shorts, commercials, videos, and simulators. While concert-goers are often exposed to pyrotechnic and/or highly orchestrated phantasms that improve year by year.

[5] Metanarratives are an overarching account or interpretation of events and circumstances that provides a pattern or structure for people’s beliefs and gives meaning to their experiences.

[6] A worldview is a network of ultimate beliefs, assumptions, values, and ideas about the universe and our place in it that shapes how we understand our life and experiences (and the lives and experiences of others).

[7] I include Islam here because the notion of Jihad, which intimates a struggle or effort, and means much more than holy war (physically). It includes three different kinds of struggle: (1) a believer’s internal struggle to live out the Muslim faith as well as possible, (2) the struggle to build a good Muslim society, and (3) the struggle to defend Islam, with force if necessary. For an apt Christian response to Islam’s worldview see Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2002).

[8] Inclusive in most non-Christian religions is the notion of charity, faith, hope, humility, and justice. See Derek Cooper, Christianity and World Religions: An Introduction to the World’s Major Faiths (NJ: P & R Publishing, 2013).

[9] 1 Peter 1:1, 2, 3, 7, 13; 2:5; 3:21; 4:11.

[10] See Richard P. Lehmann, “The Second Coming of Jesus,” in the Handbook of Seventh-Day Adventist Theology, ed. Raoul Dederen, vol. 12, electronic ed., Commentary Reference Series (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2001), 893–926.

[11] Mahalia Jackson, “”If I Can Help Somebody Along the Way” s

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About the author

Jerome Skinner, earned his Ph.D as an Old Testament scholar at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. He focuses on the Psalms and Wisdom literature and on practical Christianity. Jerome is active in following American Christianity and social issues.