“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappado’cia, Asia, and Bithyn’ia, 2 chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:…”
The vocabulary of obedience and submission has drifted out of our society over the last number of decades. It was not that long ago when a student who cheated on an exam at one of our military academies, for example, was summarily dismissed. Now, they hire lawyers who argue that it is the institution’s fault that the student was ‘forced’ to cheat. The whole machinery of authority and obedience has been radically realigned in our society. We talk about relationships, responsibility, self-determination, rights. Can you imagine starting an obedience movement? How about the Women’s Obedience Movement? How far do you think that would go?! Or, how about the Student Obedience Movement? How would you like be in charge of advancing that idea?
So, what do we do with Peter who says “…chosen and destined by God the father for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:…”. Peter could have said a lot of other things here. He could have said, for example, ‘chosen and destined for salvation in Jesus Christ’, or, ‘chosen and destined for celebration of Jesus Christ’. The possibilities are endless. But what Peter did say was “for obedience to Jesus Christ”. And that’s not all. He goes on to say that the Christians should live as obedient children. He talks about “obedience to the truth”. Not knowing the truth or speaking the truth or doing the truth but “obedience to the truth”.
The key is the connection Peter makes between obedience and Jesus Christ. For the phrase that gives definition to the obedience of the Christian is “…sprinkling with His blood.” In another place he speaks of “…the precious blood of Christ.” In another place he dips back into the Old testament and speaks of “…the blood of the sacrificial lamb.” I wonder if any of you can even remember the old gospel song, ‘There is Power in the Blood’? Many of you probably don’t even know that there even was such a song. I don’t think Peter would have had a problem with it. For all that singing about the blood is a stark and unapologetic way seeing to it that we do not forget, or interpret away, or beautify, or turn into an idea, or an interesting story, or a theological device, the Cross of Jesus Christ.
For Peter, with the crowing of the rooster still ringing in his ears, the Cross of Jesus was an unforgettable event and he was determined that those congregations to which he wrote should not forget it, either. I take Peter to be saying that the Christian so identifies with the Cross – the actual death of Jesus, once for all – who so interlaces and internalizes the cross with his or her own life, that that life, like that of its Lord, takes the shape of obedient love, not seeking its own ‘rights’. The sign of that bloody Cross upon the brow of the baptized must say something about the style, the tone, the shape of the life of the Christian.
Is it really so strange that Peter should link obedience of the Christian with Christ Himself? He who suffered but did not return suffering? He who was reviled but did not seek revenge? He who sought the welfare of others while emptying Himself? Is submission and obedience an entirely inappropriate posture? For the persons bent on relentless self-willing, perhaps. But for the Christian?
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”