Readings for February 21, 2021
First Sunday of Lent
1 Peter 3:18-22
Jesus was proclaimed by God to be “My Son, whom I love,” (Mark 1:11) after which Jesus went out to the desert to fast and pray, and to be tempted. When he returned, filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus told the crowds, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” However, it doesn’t seem to stretch the imagination to consider that maybe there were some skeptics in the crowd. Especially given that John, whom many had previously thought could be the messiah, was now in prison. It would be almost logical to the skeptics’ eyes that this new messiah was “more fake news.”
A similar skepticism is flooded throughout all of this week’s readings. Peter undoubtedly faced skepticism as he proclaimed the Good News of a preacher who was hung on a cross, ostensibly for failing to ignite a revolution–at least the sort of revolution that the religious elite expected of any proper messiah (Jesus didn’t fit their mold). And, after building an enormous boat, big enough for seven pairs of animals we like, and two pairs of animals we don’t seem to like as much, and gathering his family into a boat still in drydock, Noah certainly received a few skeptical glances.
So what is this “Good News” that the skeptics missed? John was an oddball who had everyone wondering, but his demise was imminent. Noah was an oddball no one believed but, as it turns out, was right to climb into the boat—but still, what he was right about was the demise of thousands of people that he knew. Peter, well, he actually got out of the boat and that didn’t turn out as one might have hoped. And Jesus died a horrible death. Yet, all of this is the beginning of the Good News in which we are called to believe. It doesn’t sound like good news, or at least seems to yield a lot of results which are counter to what my worldly view has taught me to consider as good news—you know, saving kittens out of trees or students donating money for cancer research, things like that. Not the flooding of the entire earth, for example. But the fact that this does not fit into my worldly understanding is exactly what affirms its goodness.
The five verses of 1 Peter 3:18-22 offer us a full summation of the Good News as any words printed in God’s book. Noah’s flood story was a baptism of water–whereby the world and all in it were made new, as was our relationship with God, who offered the promise of a rainbow to show that He would never flood the entire world again. Peter’s willingness to climb out of a boat onto rough waters made him the rock on which Jesus built his Church. And Jesus accepting his horrific torture and death was done to conquer our death from sin and his resurrection and ascension lifted him to sit at God’s right hand, holding all authority over angels, worldly and heavenly authorities, and earthly powers. The Good News is the story of our salvation. The story of choosing heaven over earth. Repent and believe!
My Lord Jesus, you have authority over all things, including my life. May I repent of my sins and forever surrender my life to your will. I believe in the Good News, Jesus. Save me, as you are my Lord and Savior. Amen