Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. – 1 Peter 1:10-12
A few years ago Diane and I had planned a significant vacation; so significant that I got a countdown timer app for my phone. It showed the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds until we were to leave. We were both really excited to go and looked forward to the time we would get away. It was all about us, though, and not significant to anyone else.
The prophets knew that they were looking for the suffering of Christ – so necessary to our salvation. Their attention lay in Israel’s redemption. Their focus was not their own self-interest, but in the blessing of those who would benefit from the Messiah’s redemptive suffering.
So interesting to the angels was Jesus’ ministry, that they longed to see how it would all unfold. They must have said to one another (humanly-thinking), “How’s he going to pull this off? Will he really allow his one and only Son to suffer to redeem these people? How will God let all this unfold?” They longed to look into the unfolding drama of God’s redemptive work through Jesus, God’s Son.
Although we don’t really know what they said, we do have a hint regarding the curiosity on the angels’ part. At Jesus’ ascension they confront the gawking disciples, “Why do you stand there looking into the sky? This Jesus will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). The angels had seen the unfolding of God’s plan. Jesus was heading for his glory subsequent to his suffering and death. They were no longer curious. All was right with the universe and the spiritual realm was as it should be: Jesus was on his way to his proper place of glory at the right hand of God. All this was promised and revealed to and by the prophets of the Old Testament.
Our interest in understanding the things pertaining God’s salvation and the ongoing saga of his work in this world will serve us well. Perhaps we, like the prophets of old, will also discover how his mercy plays out not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of others.