Text – 1 Peter 3:18-22:
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you[b] to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20 who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.
21 And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for[c] a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
Peter wrote his letter to a community of Christians that were suffering because of their faith. In order to encourage them, he reminded that “Christ also suffered for sins once for all,” 1 Peter 3:18. Peter also reminded them of the persistent and effective results of Christ’s suffering.
- Christ’s death was sacrificial and atoning. It was FOR sins.
- Christ’s death had ultimate finality. It was once for all.
- Christ’s death has a reconciling effect. It brings us to God.
- And Christ’s death has far-reaching effects. He even went to preach to “spirits in prison.”
Scholars have suggested that this text might have been a baptismal hymn. Another reminder to Peter’s audience that, not only should they be encouraged by Christ’s atoning death, but also by the fact that they, in their baptism, actually imitated the death and resurrection of Christ. A fact not to be forgotten or taken for granted.
Everlasting God, thank you that you give the gift of eternal life. You said that to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must be born again of water and the Spirit. You have given us baptism as the sign and seal of this new birth.
In baptism, we are washed by the Holy Spirit and made clean. In baptism we are clothed with Jesus’ righteousness, dying to sin that we may live his risen life. May we be reminded that we find our identity and dignity as your child in this act of baptism. We also pray that you lead us into the fullness of life. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.