Precious redeemed in Christ.
In verse 5 of this chapter, Peter bids, “Wear humility as a sign of service to one another.”     To all of this, our Old Adam says, NO!  The world, in complete cooperation with our Old Adam, encourages us to assert our rights, to sue everyone and anyone who crosses us, to pursue self-esteem.

All of this runs counter to the exhortation Peter gives in our lesson for this morning.   He tells us, “Be humbled.”   According to Peter and thus according to God’s definition, “humility” is a blessing and finally becomes a word of the Gospel.     This morning we learn, the humility God enjoins is surrounded from beginning to end in the power and might of the Triune God. 

  1. God invites us sinners to place ourselves under His mighty hand.
  2. God tells us that after our suffering will come glory.
Peter begins this portion of his letter with the phrase, “Be humbled under the mighty hand of God,” and then closes it with, “He has the power forever and ever.”    Sandwiched in between are the reasons why.   Reason number one is this: Throw all your worry on Him (Ps. 55: 22) because He cares for you.”   
The word “worry” in the Greek language comes from a verb that means “having a divided mind.”      As Christians, our mind and heart and feelings and conscience are constantly distracted and divided between the desires of the New Man and the passions of the Old Adam.     St. Paul said of himself, “I am acting in a way I don’t understand.   For instead of doing what I want to do, I do what I hate.”  
Did you win the battle against your fleshly desires this week?   Did you manage to stay focused and suppress every evil thought, every unkind word and every sinful action?     Was every thought free of all impurities such as greed, or malice, or lust, or hatred, or envy or jealousy?      Humility means seeing ourselves as helpless sinners bound for hell.   Humility is simply another word for repentance.
Yet, I said that reason number one for wanting to be humbled is this:  “Because He cares for you.”   The word care is not at all like our worry.   God is not divided in His concern for His sheep.   He stays focused on our lives.      That concern reaches to the very depth of your sin and to the very finish of our salvation.  That little word care, is your forgiveness, your salvation, your eternal life because it is wrapped up in the holy life and precious blood of Jesus Christ crucified and risen.  “He cares for you,” is holy absolution.   God is inviting you, the sinner, to place your entire life under His mighty hand.   That hand sent Jesus to die for your sins.
In the context of His care for us, God gives us a warning, “Keep a clear head and watch!    Why should we watch?   This involves reason number two why we should humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.   God says, “Your enemy, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”   The word “enemy” in the Greek is most interesting.   It is a courtroom term meaning one who stands against justice. According to God’s judgment, we are to go free because Jesus has both rendered perfect obedience to the Law on our behalf and paid the full price for our entire life of crime and iniquity.   The devil stands in opposition to this verdict insisting that while Jesus may have paid for some sins, the ones you committed last week, that one sin that haunts your conscience still holds an outstanding warrant.
Peter describes the Devil as a roaring lion.   “The devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”   Both the words “prowling” and “seeking” are in the present tense.    Satan doesn’t quit.   The moment we think we have won against our flesh, he nails us somewhere else.   Sin is with us at all times because we are not merely sinners; we are sin full.    As St. Paul says again, “When I want to do what is right, evil is there with me.”   If it isn’t lust, its pride.   If it isn’t malice, its jealousy.
However, like a lion, Satan’s desire is not so much to involve us in a sin here and there.     His desire then is not merely to cause us to sin, but to make us lose our faith.   His strategy is to make us loose our confidence in God’s verdict of acquittal.
At this point, Peter brings us back to God’s word.   “Be strong in your faith and resist him, knowing that your fellow Christians in the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering.”   Faith here is not subjective, but objective.   It is not the faith that is in your heart.   Our faith may be strong one day and weak the next.   Peter is telling us to go back to the promises of God’s forgiveness, to “The Faith” once received.   He is pointing us back to the unconditional promise God made with you in Holy Baptism where God adopted you as His child and heir and where He clothed you in the royal robe of Christ’s perfect righteousness.
Peter reminds us that we are not alone in our battle against our Old Adam and against Satan.   Every Christian must suffer for Christ.   As Paul says, “All who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”    Your Old Adam will taunt you daily.  Satan will persecute your conscience continually to destroy your faith.     Take these words to your Old Adam and to Satan and to your accusing conscience, God invites sinners to place themselves under His mighty hand.   That “hand” is the promise of forgiveness and life with Jesus forever.    The humility God enjoins is surrounded from beginning to end in the power and might of the Triune God.
Secondly this morning, the God of all grace tells us that after our suffering will come glory.     This is the third reason why we should humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.   In the “economy” of God, humility and suffering go together.    However, our suffering, our battle with our Old Adam, our constant war with the horrible accusations of Satan, will come to an end.   Peter assures us of this in the closing two verses, “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who called you in Christ Jesus to His everlasting glory, will restore you, firm you up, and make you strong, and give you a good foundation.”
 
Did you listen closely to the Old Testament lesson for this morning?   “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?   He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.   He will again have compassion on us and will subdue our iniquities.”
This is the God who has called you to everlasting glory.    That is nothing short of eternity with Jesus.    It is what we can look forward to with certainty in the midst of our suffering.
We are first told that God, “will restore you.”      In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lost for themselves and for every one of their offspring, the perfect state of paradise and the perfect relationship with God.   In the hour of death, God will restore to us the life once enjoyed only in the Garden of Eden.
The second action God will take will be to “firm you up”.   No longer will we be subject to a divided mind and heart as we are in this life.   The God of all grace will establish our heart in a perfect mind completely in tune with God as Adam and Eve enjoyed it in the Garden of Eden.
The third action God will take will be, “to make you strong.”   A hymn most of us have learned from our youth goes, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong, they are weak, but He is strong.”     We are the “little ones.”   We will remain weak.  If you doubt this for a moment, just examine your heart.   Did you win every encounter with your Old Adam this week?   We don’t come to church on Sunday’s to exercise our spiritual muscles, but to receive the precious word of absolution.      We are weak in soul as well as in body.   In this life our bodies become weaker and weaker, not stronger.  In heaven, God will restore to us a perfect body like that of our Savior.
Finally, Peter tells us, “And give you a good foundation.”   In the Greek that word means “to render one firm and unwavering.”    How often do we stand accused by the words of Jesus, “O ye of little faith.”    How many times do we as Christians, who should know better, who even in the later years of our life still find our hearts like wax and feet like mush in the midst of trial, temptation, lust and greed and hatred?    In reference to our heavenly home Jesus tells us, “Look, the Tabernacle of God is among the people!   He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, nor will there be grief nor crying nor pain, because the first things have passed away.”   (Rev. 21: 3-4)       God is telling us that after our sufferings of this life, His glory meant for us will be realized in its fullest.   That “foundation” no one will be able to take from us.
After these words, in which Peter tells us that God invites us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty care and after our suffering, Peter notes, “He has the power forever and ever.   Amen.”      In the midst of our battle with the Old Adam and with Satan himself, we can humble ourselves, that is, place ourselves in the care of our gracious Savior in whose hands rest all power, not just for this life, but for the verdict of forgiveness which will carry us from the sufferings of this life to the glory of life forever with Jesus.
Thus our comfort is this: The humility God enjoins is surrounded from beginning to end in the power and might of the Triune God.   That power and might shows up in the humility of the cross where the God of all creation placed Himself under God’s mighty hand to keep the Law in our place and to die to gain you the forgiveness of sin.   Go in peace.   To be humbled under the mighty hand of God means that you are covered in the blood once shed.  A-men

Soli Deo Gloria