He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
1 Peter 1:20–21
This passage links Jesus’ eternal existence, his incarnation as a baby, his death as the awesome price paid for our deliverance from futile, sinful living, his resurrection, and the difference he make for our eternity. It is the whole of the Christian story summed up in two sentences!
1. However you dress it up: Jesus Christ was foreknown before the foundation of the world.
God the Father knew and loved God the Son, Jesus Christ, before the universe was created. In other words the one who shed his blood to pay the ransom for our rescue from futile living was no ordinary man and the plan to pay the ransom was no afterthought to creation. God knew Jesus and God knew his plan and Christ’s role in it from eternity.
When you think about hoping for happiness in living life your way, think about this: the ransom paid to rescue you from that futility was planned before the universe was created.
2. However you dress it up: He has appeared in these last times.
Jesus existed before creation in relationship with his Father and has been invisible to human beings; but now in these last times—the times of the Messiah—he has appeared. This is Christmas. The eternal Christ took on flesh and blood so that God could be seen: "If you have seen me," he said, "you have seen the Father" (John 14:9).
He was born to die. And he died to ransom us from a futile life of sin.
3. However you dress it up: He appeared for our sake.
Peter says at the end of verse 20 that the reason Christ appeared was "for the sake of you." This should blow us away. We are talking here about the infinitely powerful and wise and holy God of the universe and his one and only divine Son. And we are talking about their purpose from the untraceable distance of infinity and eternity to plan an unthinkable penetration into creation. Why?
For our sake, that we might be ransomed from a futile manner of life. If that doesn’t prove that God takes you and your future seriously, what can?
4. However you dress it up: God raised him from the dead.
In the middle of verse 21 Peter says, that God "raised him from the dead."
Here Peter says that the one who gave his life did not stay dead. God raised him from the dead. God vindicated. What this says to us is not only that the ransom is all-satisfying to God, but also that death is defeated.
Often sin comes to us saying, "My way is more hopeful than God’s; indulge yourself, eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die." To that you can reply, "Yes, but what about the day after tomorrow? If I put my hope in Jesus and not in you I will live again and be happy forever! Be gone, futile way of sin!" That’s the meaning of Christ’s resurrection for daily life.
5. However you dress it up: God gave him glory.
Next in verse 21, we read that God "gave him glory." In other words he didn’t raise him from the dead to be a mere mortal, to suffer and die again. He brought him into heaven and set him at his right hand as Lord of the universe with all the glory that he had from eternity with the Father.
What this implies for our fight with the futile way of sin is that the way of Christ leads to glory. The way he walked led to glory for himself. And he lives with glorious power to make sure that our following him will lead us to glory too. Therefore, we have every reason to hope in what God promises and not in what sin promises.
6. However you dress it up: Through Christ we are believers in God.
Jesus Christ has done the necessary work to connect us with God in faith. He was eternally chosen, he came as a human, he shed his precious blood, God raised him from the dead, God gave him glory and through all of this we come to hope in God.
So Peter makes that explicit at the end of verse 21—all of this, "so that your faith and hope are in God."
He knew and chose his Son, he sent his Son, he put his Son to death, he raised his Son from death, he gave his Son glory—Why?
For this reason: so that you could hope in God. So that you can trust what God can do for you rather than what you can do for yourself. If you put your hope for happiness in God, you live.
The call of God to you this Christmas is this: stop trying to satisfy your heart’s desire with this world and all its God-belittling ways. And turn to Christ.
Focus all your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection on him who was chosen from eternity, came a just at the right time, was crucified for humankind, raised from the dead, glorified at the right hand of God—all for your sake—all that you might be satisfied in God.
The Spirit and the church say, "Come"! Let the one who is thirsty come. Let everyone who wishes come and take the water of life—the all-satisfying water of life—without cost.