No Matter How Bad You Suffer, It is Temporary
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
We do talk a lot about our sufferings, but we need to keep in mind that though we suffer, we must remember what Jesus went through. By doing this we can hold up under pressure. Let us see what God says to us today in His word about Christ’s sufferings.
(18) For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us[a] to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, (19) by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, (20) who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited[b] in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. (21) There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (22) who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.
-1 Peter 3:18-22 (NKJV)
In this text we are reminded about Christ’s sufferings and what we gain by them. Verse eighteen reminds us that Christ suffered for people who did not deserve it, which is everyone. Christ, the just one, suffered for us, the unjust. This is important to keep in mind as we continue with this section of the text. Jesus’ death brings us to a Holy God. It is because of His act on the cross, dying once for all, that mankind will ultimately be restored to the image of God. We enjoy a partial restoration here on earth (we are given the Holy Spirit who is the seal for the perfection that is to come in the next life).
Verse nineteen through twenty is a tremendously hard verse to understand. The question needs to be asked, why did Peter include this unless he was using it as some kind of analogy? I believe that in the context he is talking about those souls who perished during the flood of Noah. We don’t know when Jesus did this preaching. He could have done it before coming to earth (i.e. pre-incarnate Christ), during the three days that His body was left in the tomb, or some other time. The passage does not give us this information. Too many scholars and Christians have spent way too much time debating this issue. Peter simply uses this portion of scripture as an analogy of salvation. So we won’t take the time here to go into endless debate over these verses. Just know that because of the acts of God with Noah and his family all mankind through the waters, were saved. This is an analogy of the blood of Christ that cleanses us from sin and through His acts, we are saved.
Verse twenty seems to be talking about salvation by baptism. That is not the case. This is yet another example of where people have not read the rest of the verse in its context. Baptism doesn’t save you. Peter says salvation comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and cleanses our conscience toward God. The thing to note here is that Peter specifically mentions the resurrection. There are quite a few people who will call themselves Christians, but will deny the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. You can not deny the resurrection and be a Christian. It is part of the Gospel (good news) and can not be removed. If an individual can not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ then they can not be saved!
Verse twenty-two tells us that Jesus has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God the Father. During this period of history when this book was written it was commonly known that the right hand of a king was a symbol to signify a position of power. This means that Jesus is in THE position of power. This is only a symbol that is used to help our limited human minds to try to grasp something of Christ that is far beyond us. The rest of this verse tells us that Christ is the head of all things. That would include all angels, powers, everything. He is God and is above all everything else in the universe.
This section reminds us who we belong to, God. It reminds us that He loves us so much that He has redeemed us and that our limited suffering on earth does not compare to the Glory He has in store for us in heaven. With this in mind we can endure hardships as those who have a far better home waiting for them. This is all due to what Christ has already done for us.
How are you today? Are you going through something bad? Just remember what Christ has done for you and how He cares for you. This will help you to endure your situation under an empowerment of God.