“You know what will make you arm feel better? Hot ice. You heat up…the ice cubes. It’s the best of both worlds!”
I literally thought this was the funniest line ever as a kid. It comes from The Rookie of the Year, possibly one of my favorite movies of all time. Obviously, hot ice is merely water. Hot ice just doesn’t make sense. It’s what we would call an oxymoron. These two things are opposites and don’t make sense when said in succession.
"Ransomed exiles" is another one of these phrases that, when you really think about it, just doesn’t make sense. Ransomed refers to someone being released (in most contexts a prisoner) by making a payment that is demanded. An exile, in its most basic definition, is the period of absence from one’s country or home. In most instances of an exile, a person is barred from returning home by those in authority. Do you see why this sounds strange and doesn’t quite make sense? Why would someone who is free from their imprisonment, be living as if they are barred? Peter pens a letter to his fellow believers, who are facing (or are about to face) incredible persecution and hardship, encouraging them to place one foot in front of the other as those who are set free from bondage looking forward to their true home.
In 1 Peter 1:17-19, Peter gives a charge to his weary fellow believers: “conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
Looking forward to move onward. These believers have been beaten, wrongfully imprisoned, and have seen family members taken away or even killed for their faith in Jesus the Messiah. To “conduct” themselves in any kind of right manner would be extremely difficult. How would these people have the strength to move on despite these hardships? Peter motivates these suffering believers a few verses back to set their hope fully on the coming of Jesus Christ. Looking forward to what was to come continually sustained them as they walked on living upright lives despite their circumstances.
Live with fear? Well, that sounds counterproductive. These people are already living in fear. Why would Peter urge them to conduct themselves with fear? In this context fear is not being scared or frightened by something. Fear, as Tim Keller describes it is, “to be overwhelmed, to be controlled by something. To fear the Lord is to be overwhelmed with wonder before the greatness of God and his love. It means that, because of his bright holiness and magnificent love, you find him “fearfully beautiful.”
It’s only for a season. “Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” Peter infers that these hardships are only for a season. It might be long, but in the light of eternity spent with Jesus, the present sufferings are only for a moment. This goes back to Peter urging the believers to set their hope fully on Jesus. True hope put everything else in perspective.
Looking backward to press forward. In the midst of these difficult circumstances, Peter spurs his fellow believers on to remember the fact that they were ransomed. They were set free from their sinful ways, which brought death, through Jesus’ imperishable, never-ending atonement or substitutional death on the cross. Despite the circumstances surrounding them, their hope was steadfast because it was continually placed on the unwavering King.
This is for us. These truths hit home for us too. As ransomed exiles, we are called to look forward to our inheritance found in Jesus in order to move onward despite life’s deep struggles. No matter what we face, we can continually find hope in the fact that we will one day be face to face with our Savior King. When we live overwhelmed and controlled by the greatness of who God is and what he has done for us, our perspective on life’s circumstances are changed and we can have true peace. We can also take comfort in the fact that our present sufferings are only for a season in light of the eternal life God has secured for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. As we choose to remind ourselves of the gospel, the good news that God sent Jesus to pay our sin debt and free us from the bondage of sin and death, we can press on through life’s struggles knowing that this world is not our home. We are merely exiles looking forward to eternity in the presence of Jesus —our forever-home. Be encouraged to know that, if you have placed your faith in Jesus, you have a glorious inheritance. Remember, look forward and press onward.
- Stephen Krumalis -