Fifth Sunday of Easter 10/05/2020

The service is available at the following YouTube link

Fifth Sunday of Easter- 5/10/20- Scripture focus: 1 Peter 2:9.  Pastor Joe Asher, Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church- Germany.  *IN NOMINE JESU*

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Today, our complete focus in this sermon will be on only ONE verse from the Apostle Peter’s letter to the scattered Christians who were living in present-day Turkey.  These first century Christians were driven to what was then called Asia Minor, and were under persecution from a lot of powerful sources such as-

  • The Roman Empire (worshipping Jupiter and the pantheon of gods from Greek mythology, as well as the growing cult of emperor worship)
  • Judaism- which turned Christians in for arrest
  • Temples of idolatry- such as the worship of Artemis in Ephesus
  • The nature worshippers
  • Magicians and sorcerers

Every religious group had its following.  And few were happy when persecuted and scattered Christians showed up and began celebrating a new crucified and risen Savior named Jesus.  For the followers of Jesus said that He, the Christ, was the hope of the world.

Further, Christians declared that God is known exclusively through Jesus of Nazareth, for He is the Son of God Who paid for sin, and rose again, and calls for all to trust in Him by faith for eternal life.  This Gospel proclaimed by believers in Christ was received and believed by many, but the new Christianity was also strongly opposed throughout the Roman Empire.  

Peter wrote his letter to strengthen all scattered Christians in that difficult time.  And today, we also have the apostle’s message given to us from 1st Peter 2:9-

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Here in this one verse, you can see that Peter is clarifying

  • Who Christians are, and…
  • What we are supposed to do

Regarding the identity of all believers in Jesus, the apostle first declares that we are a…

Chosen race

For a large number of the people in Asia Minor receiving Peter’s letter, they had been forced out of their country, culture, and ethnic identity.  Further, they were scattered to alien locations far from home.  But Peter wants these Christians to know that they have a new identity in Christ.  They have been chosen by God to be His people, and so in a way, believers in Jesus are distinct from the common world.

So while it is currently routine for human beings to identify ourselves by a race, such as Black, White, Asian, or some other social construct relating to genetics or ancestry or place of origin, Peter says that in our Savior Jesus Christ, we are in a chosen race in Him.

So when a person walks into our Kaiserslautern Evangelical Lutheran Church, and he or she is a Christian, we are united in Christ according to God’s Word, and we are of the same race, chosen by God to be His people… to be brothers and sisters together as followers of Jesus.

When you think about it, there can be no racism in any Christian church because we are of one race.  We are united in Christ Jesus into His chosen race.  For Jesus said in John 15:16-

16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

United in faith and in a relationship with our living God, we are a chosen people and one race.

Going back to the apostle’s letter, the second way Peter identifies the scattered Christians and also all believers today is by calling us-

A royal priesthood

The way to think about this image is to relate it to the role and position of the priests of Israel in the Old Testament.  The priests of God entered into an intimate and unobstructed fellowship with God.  They served at God’s altar, in the Holy of Holies, and in faith and repentance they enjoyed the privilege of being able to enter God’s presence and approach the Lord in worship and prayer at the times which the Lord permitted.  

Today, through faith in Jesus Christ, we may also come near to God, and with sincere hearts, offer ourselves to our Lord Who loves us and has saved us.  Our holy priesthood is a blessing for every Christian believer, whether male or female, rich or poor, or any other human distinction.  God welcomes all Christian believers as priests before Him.  It is our legacy.  It really is a gift and honor for every baptized follower of Jesus.

And the privilege we enjoy to enter into an unobstructed fellowship with God is based upon Jesus, the Son of God Who is our Great High Priest.  For it is through Him that we have complete and full access to our loving Heavenly Father.

It is through Christ and the forgiveness of sins, purchased upon the cross, that we can come boldly, with confidence, to our God’s throne of grace so that we may receive help and mercy for all our needs (Hebrews 4:14-16) This royal priesthood in which we take great pleasure is based entirely on the merit and salvation provided for us by Jesus our Lord.  Christ offered Himself as sacrifice and payment for our sin and rebellion once and for all.

A common question that comes up is that if every Christian possesses the royal priesthood, then why is a pastor necessary in each local church?

The answer is that in the Christian faith, we believe that all Christians holding the position of “royal priest” does not undermine or invalidate the office of public ministry which Christ gave to the Church (see Ephesians 4:11-15 and 1stTimothy 3).  Those believers in the royal priesthood, you and me, in various ways choose one from the local church who is equipped to teach and called to perform the many duties of a pastor.  So pastors are installed into the Lord’s service to-

  • Lead worship
  • Serve at God’s altar
  • Teach God’s Holy Word

…for the benefit of the Church.  We pastors learn skills in liturgy, preaching, teaching, administration, counseling, and many other things so that the people of God are strengthened in faith and service to our Lord and others.

Now, let’s go back again to Peter’s epistle so that we can view his description of “who Christians are.”  The third identifying term used in verse nine which applies to believers is…

A holy nation

When you read God’s Word, it is supremely evident that the nation of Israel was never holy in its conduct.  The Christian Church today also struggles with sin.  Yet Peter is stating that we are holy in our relationship with God because the Savior Jesus is our righteousness. (Romans 3:21-22/ Romans 8:1)  Peter calls us “holy nation” because God has made us holy in Christ, washing us clean from sin by the blood of His Son.

Like old Israel, we are the Lord’s people, and God declares us a “holy nation.”  And with this image Peter gives us his fourth identifying term, that we are, verse 9-

A people for His (God’s) own possession.

This phrase foreshadows that eternal relationship which we will have with our Lord in heaven… where sin and brokenness never divide us from our Heavenly Father, and we are secure forever as His blessed and treasured people.  Because in Christ, we know who we are- a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for His own possession.

And that takes us back to verse nine for the conclusion of this one verse where Peter declares what we are supposed to do.  Peter writes-

That you may proclaim the excellencies of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Recognizing all the Lord has done for us, we are now called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news of Jesus to all the world.  This is both a command and a privilege for us.  Carrying the Gospel to the world is nothing less than our duty, for we must direct all who spiritually hunger to Jesus, the Bread of Life, Who alone can satisfy.  But proclaiming the excellencies of Jesus is

also a privilege… for we know and love our Savior, and we treasure the opportunity to be in His service. 

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.  

+Sola Deo Gloria+

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