Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you. – 1 Peter 1:1-2
I’m watching Jesus Christ Superstar as I begin this post. The wild opening overture has just given way to the powerful “Jesus Christ Superstar” theme. Jesus has appeared on stage. Whatever else you might think of Andrew Lloyd Webber, you’ll have to admit he can write evocative music. He expresses some great theology: “For the sake of the nation, this Jesus must die,” for example. But he – sadly – leaves Jesus in the grave at the end of the production. This rock opera was well done as such, but not as a true witness to Jesus Christ whose superstar status is secured now at the right hand of God.
Peter – years after Jesus’ death and resurrection – is holding onto the hope he was given that first Easter morning. He was not as quick to faith as was John (cf. John 20). But he experiences the grace of God for himself when Jesus appeared after the resurrection, asking if Peter loves him, and hearing Jesus’ command, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-19). Peter writes as a redeemed apostle (a “sent one”) to those who are elect, yet exiled; scattered away from their home in Jerusalem.
Their situation was not pleasant, but it was not removed from God’s knowledge, and the grace and peace that comes from faith in him. By the time Peter writes this letter the message of the gospel has been tested by persecution so great that all but the disciples were scattered (cf. Acts 8:1-4). Stephen has been martyred. Saul has raged against the followers of the Way. None of this is to deter these people from receiving God’s grace and embracing his peace.
Whatever our station of life – sated and content, searching and discouraged – God’s grace and peace are the constant blessing of faith and the gift of God founded in Jesus’ resurrection.