Our Precious Redeemer
Topic: English Passage: 1 Peter 1:20-21
One of the ways that worth, or value, is measured is by longevity. Things that last—things that endure—are generally worth more than things that don’t.
Here in the United States, we assign value to coins and bills, but that assigned value doesn’t actually match their intrinsic value. A dollar bill, after all, is just a tiny piece of paper, about 6 inches wide and 2½ inches tall. The U.S. government estimates that a one-dollar bill in circulation lasts about 4.7 years. A one-dollar coin, on the other hand, lasts 30 years. Metals lasts longer than paper. And so, because of that, metals are intrinsically more precious than paper.
That’s why you don’t generally find valuable jewelry made out of paper. It’s made out of silver and gold. It’s made out of diamonds and platinum.
I’m not a jewelry expert, but I would put paper jewelry more in the category of arts and crafts. I’d say it’s more in the category of novelty. And we are a culture that loves novelty. We crave the stuff that’s new.
I don’t think it’s wrong to ascribe extrinsic or external value to something. We all assign emotional value to things. But it is a mark of immaturity and foolishness when we begin to place a greater emphasis on our personal perception than on reality. Part of immaturity is the inability to understand true worth.
For example, if money were scarce in a family, a 3-year old would be more inclined to buy a new toy than to put gasoline in the car, or to buy groceries. Young children generally assign greater value to their own emotional perception than to reality. They don’t understand the true value of things.
Well, in a postmodern culture like ours, where absolute truth is denied and resisted, and individuals get to assign value, things that truly matter are going to be devalued in exchange for the things that give us temporary pleasures. A postmodern culture is going to de-emphasize, or even scorn, that which has endured, that which is truly valuable.
But rather than address how we see this in the culture, I want you to think about how you see this in your own life. We have something that is even more valuable than silver and gold, right? We have something, or rather someone, who is not of this world. We have the eternal, infinite, uncreated Son of God. We have Jesus Christ.
He created us. He redeemed us, if we trust in Him. And by His Spirit, He has brought us into an eternal relationship with Him and with the Father. Jesus said that’s what eternal life is—to know the Father and to know the Son whom He has sent.
Look with me at First Peter chapter 1, verses 17-21. We’re going to finish this section today, and our focus is going to be on the immeasurable, eternal value of Jesus Christ. Listen to the words of God through the Apostle Peter.
17And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
In speaking of our redemption, Peter contrasts perishable silver and gold with the precious value of Jesus Christ. Specifically, Peter is talking about Jesus’ blood, which is a pointing to His sacrifice. He gave His life. So, to speak of the value of Christ’s blood is to speak of the value of Christ Himself. This is about the value of Him whose blood was spilled.
Our focus today is verses 20 and 21 which, as I said, focus on Jesus Christ. The world has so many interpretations of Jesus Christ. Everybody has their own idea of who He really was. But the only trustworthy source is the Bible. This is God’s self-revelation. This is the only way you can really know who Jesus was and is.
What makes Jesus so precious, so distinct. Peter points us to the answer. Number 1 he tells us of Jesus’ eternal glory. His eternal glory.
Look again at verse 20. It says there “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world.” “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world.”
We talked a little bit about the word “foreknowledge back in verse 2, but that was talking about God’s foreknowledge of us. Here it’s talking about Jesus being foreknown. What is that talking about?
For one, it’s pointing to the fact that He existed eternally, even before the creation of the universe. Even if we simply used longevity as a measure of worth, then there is nothing more precious than God Himself. And God has, for all time existed as a unity of three persons.
His people didn’t know that about Him, but now, being on the other side of Christ and the of the coming of the Holy Spirit, that’s what we know.
God’s foreknowledge of us meant that He had us in mind even before creation. He set his love on us even though we didn’t exist. But for the preincarnate Christ it was a constant loving relationship between the members of the Trinity, or the Godhead.
And Jesus spoke about that in His ministry. In John 8 He said to the Pharisees, “Before Abraham existed, I am.” He used the covenant name of God to describe Himself, “I AM.” That’s what Jehovah or Yahweh means. That’s what’s behind most of our translations in the Old Testament any time you see the word “Lord” with all capital letters.
The Jews knew exactly what Jesus was declaring, and they hated Him all the more.
Later, in John 17, Jesus prays: “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed... Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
Jesus is eternal God. Going back to John 1, it says “The Word was with God and the Word was God... All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” What does that mean? It means Jesus is not a created being. He is eternal. He and the Father are one. In eternity past, they lived in perfect unity and glory.
But there’s a second component to Jesus being foreknown. Not only was He foreknown by the Father in love. The entire plan of redemption was foreknown. It was all mapped out.
Acts 2:23 says that Jesus was delivered over to death according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.
That doesn’t just stretch back to the Old Testament. That goes back to before this universe was spoken into existence, before time began. The plan of redemption and salvation wasn’t an afterthought or a reaction. It wasn’t like Satan ruined God’s plan, and then God said, “Well, I better send Jesus know.”
The divine plan, from before the beginning was that God would glorify Himself by redeeming fallen humanity. The Father would send the Son, and the Son would go willingly to rescue a people for Himself, and they would have worshipers forever, both angelic and redeemed humans.
There is an element of mystery to all that because we’re not God, but that’s what the Bible teaches. God is working out a plan that has already been written out in its entirety. And the story of human history isn’t focused on us. It’s focused on the glory of the Father through the redemption provided by the Son and applied by the Holy Spirit. It has all been preordained. And Jesus has been foreknown since before the foundation of the world.
So, we praise and value Jesus Christ for His eternal glory. Secondly, we exalt Jesus because of His earthly humility. His earthly humility.
This is about God’s plan coming to fruition here on earth, and we see it in the next phrase of verse 20. Jesus was foreknown before the foundation of the world; He is eternal. But He was made manifest in the last times. That’s talking about the incarnation.
The eternal God didn’t just visit earth, looking like a man. The Word became flesh. He took upon Himself the fullness of humanity. Everything it means to be human, Jesus became. He didn’t stop being God, but that eternal glory was now veiled in what we call the mystery of the incarnation.
God made Himself known to this world in an intimately personal way. God walked among His people. The writer, creator, producer, and director entered into His story. Why? Because for His own glory, to make His kindness known, He chose to set His love upon sinners.
Jesus humbled Himself and was born as a baby. God literally and physically showed up in our world, in flesh and blood. And He would eventually die to pay the price of sin.
Jesus was made manifest, Peter says, in the last times. The “last times” is an expression in the New Testament that basically covers everything from Jesus’ first coming to His second coming. It’s the final major phase of God’s program before He takes His church to be with Him and begins the awful judgment of this unbelieving world. Ever since Jesus left, we have been living in the last days. Jesus could take His people at any moment. There’s no warning sign for that. He came in humility and love, and He will come again in power.
Again, it was all for His glory, to accomplish redemption, but more specifically it was to make His kindness and love known. God was loving for all eternity. He existed in a perfect relationship of love. But He also decided to create beings whom He could set His love upon, even in their sin.
And that’s why Peter says, at the end of verse 20, He was made manifest “for the sake of you.” He came for out benefit. To show us His love, His mercy, His compassion. This is our precious Savior. He stepped down from eternal glory into an earthly humility for your sake and for mine.
Let me add a third and final characteristic to Jesus. He is precious because of His eternal glory. He is precious because of His earthly humility. And number three, He is precious because of His exalted victory. His exalted victory.
Verse 21 says God raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory. That’s the resurrection and the ascension and the exaltation of Jesus. That was God’s final stamp of affirmation of Jesus. It’s not the end of the victory; that still needs to be played out. But it guaranteed the outcome. It proved definitively that Jesus is the King of Kings and the King of creation and the Lord of all. This is what sets Jesus and Christianity apart from any other person of faith in the world.
Jesus died to fully pay the penalty of sin. He satisfied God’s justice, God’s wrath. And then, God raised Him from the dead. It was a complete and emphatic victory over sin and death. We see that victory spiritually when someone comes to faith and the penalty and power of sin is broken. And we’ll see that victory physically when Jesus returns and condemns His enemies to eternal judgment.
That’s what the angels mentioned forty days after the Resurrection. He is coming again, just like He went up. Jesus ascended to the Father where He was exalted at the Father’s right hand to reign from heaven until the day He comes back to rule on earth as the Son of David.
A great parallel passage here—which encompasses Jesus eternal glory, and His earthy humility, and His exalted victory—is Philippians chapter 2. You can turn there with me if you like. Again, this is the story of Jesus Christ. From heaven, to earth, back to heaven, and back to earth one day.
5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Have you surrendered your life to Jesus the Lord? Maybe you’re interested in Jesus. Maybe you know the stories concerning what He did. Maybe you’re even moved emotionally as you think about His death and His resurrection. But that’s not enough.
James tells us the demons believe in Jesus, and they shudder. They have a response to the truth of Jesus, but they aren’t going to be saved. Don’t place yourself in the same category of condemnation. Surrender your life to Jesus Christ. Recognize His true value, His true eternal worth, and come to Him as the Master of your life and the Master of all creation. Beg Him for mercy. Pray for forgiveness and a transformed heart.
Jesus came from heaven to save sinners like you. You can accept that and surrender to Him in love, or you can ignore Him, reject Him, and face His wrath in the end. Those are the only choices. And God takes no pleasure in that. He’s calling you to be saved. To receive the glorious, precious Lord Jesus Christ. He will forgive you on the basis of His sacrifice and resurrection.
If you want to talk more about that, talk to any of our members here. Or talk to someone you saw on the stage today. We’d be glad to tell you more.
For those of us who already trust in Jesus, how are we supposed to respond? If we understand that God has an eternal plan that He has accomplished in Jesus Christ. If we understand that Jesus took part in that plan by laying down His manifest glory and coming to die, how can we respond?
If you’ve been following along with our messages, you already know the answer. Our response is hope and holiness. Hope and holiness.
God has everything planned out—in my life, in your life, and in Christ’s life. It’s all planned out until the end. And we know what that plan is. Furthermore, Jesus will perfectly complete the Father’s plan. He won’t leave anything out. So, you’re secured. Our victory is secured. God’s love is secured.
That’s why verse 21 ends by saying God raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him glory “so that your faith and hope are in God.” God’s plans cannot be thwarted. So we have a hope, no matter how difficult things are right now. Christ suffered, and then He was glorified. We suffer too, and we will be glorified. So, we live with hope.
We also live with holiness. Keep in mind that verses 17-21 are all one sentence in Greek. And the heart of this sentence is a command. It’s the command of verse 17: conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. Live with godly, righteous fear. Walk in holiness.
How does Christ’s redemption prompt us to walk in holy fear? How does it enable us to be obedient? Because it draws us near to Him in love. Godly fear is loving fear. And as the Apostle John said, “We love because He first loved us.”
The God of creation, the eternal Son, the living Word of God humbled Himself by coming to this world and dying on a cross for your sake. For my sake. For the sake of all who belong to Him. For all whom the Father has chosen eternally.
That’s who we’re called to obey. If God were not loving or compassionate, we would still be responsible to obey Him and serve Him. Because He’s that glorious. But our God, the one true God, is not an evil dictator. He is a loving Redeemer. Our Lord came to become our faithful High Priest. He has walked in our shoes. More than we know, He knows what it’s like to battle sin and Satan. And where we fail, He was perfectly victorious. And He gave His life for us.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. And the Son laid down His life for the sheep. We serve a God of love. That should spur us to walk in love toward Him, to walk in holy, loving obedience.