But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. 1 Peter 3:15
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Peter says to be ready to give an apology for being a Christian. What? Say you’re sorry for being a Christian? No way! No, not that kind of apology. The Greek word “apology” means “defense.” The reason for the hope that is in us is that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead.
Notice Peter doesn’t say to brag or be boastful or condescending or to look down on others as if you’re smarter than they are because you’re a Christian. In fact, that’s the world’s way of looking at you because it believes you are stupid for being a Christian and believing in Jesus when you’ve never seen Him.
What is your hope? That your sins are forgiven and that you will rise from the dead. Why do you have this hope? Because Jesus died and rose. You know this because it was testified to by His eyewitness apostles. It is logical and historically accurate, even aside from the Scriptural witness, to declare that His tomb was empty!
And having that hope that Jesus is risen from the dead as He said, your hope is certain because of His Word. Word and water in baptism. Word and body and blood in the Supper. Word preached and taught and declared in Holy Absolution.
Although the world likes to put on a brave face as if it has nothing to fear, it knows death is real and it fears death. But you, dear Christian, have a hope in Christ, a promise that is sure, that death has been defeated. You will rise again and live forever. Death is not the end. The world doesn’t know this. But you do. And when the time comes to give those around you a reason for the hope that is in you, well, Jesus is it! Let them know in meekness and gentleness. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
O Jesus Christ, my Lord, So meek in deed and word, You suffered death to save us Because Your love would have us Be heirs of heav’nly gladness When ends this life of sadness. LSB 745:4
But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” Luke 5:5
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We want to think Peter is full of faith when he says they’ll drop the nets because Jesus says so. More likely Peter is trying to be patient with the Lord since he’s a fisherman and Jesus isn’t and so why should He know anything about where to put the nets? This is born out by Peter’s reaction when they caught all those fish as he drops to his knees and cries, “Lord, I am a sinful man!”
The Lord doesn’t fool around with His Word. When He says something, He means it. When His Word declares something, it does it. When Jesus speaks, what He says is what happens. That’s how God’s Word works. Unbelief says, “No way. That can’t be. That doesn’t make sense. That’s not how things work. You don’t know anything, Jesus.” Faith replies, “Yes, Lord, at your Word. If you say so. Because you say so.”
How can Jesus be true God and man? Because He says so. How can a man nailed to a cross take away the sins of the world? How does that take away your sins? Because Jesus says so. How can Jesus be alive on Easter? Because He said He would. How can you rise from the dead? Because Jesus says you will.
How can water wash away your sins? Jesus institutes this gift with His Word. How can bread and wine be the body and blood of Jesus? Jesus says they are, and for the forgiveness of sins. How can your pastor say your sins are forgiven? Christ’s Word commands Him to do so. Faith says, “Yes, Lord, at your Word, these things are true. And they’re for me. Amen!” In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
O God, who has prepared for those that love You such good things as pass man’s understanding, pour into our hearts such love toward You that we, loving You above all things, may obtain Your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. Collect for Trinity 5
“Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? (Acts 15:10)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Peter preached to both Jews and Gentiles. So did Paul. It seemed, as the Gospel was first preached that maybe it was only for the Jews. But Peter learned right away this was not so. Likewise Paul, who had been the ultimate Pharisee, learned that God’s grace was the same for all people: It is His undeserved mercy in Jesus Christ which brings the forgiveness of sins to all people.
Both realized and preached that the Law was fulfilled in Christ and we are rescued from its curse by Jesus who took our sins on Himself and died for them. When the issue came up as to whether the Gentiles had to follow the Law and be circumcised, both Apostles were on the same page: “No way! How can we put the burden of the Law on the Gentiles when the Jews couldn’t even keep it!”
What both Peter and Paul teach us is that salvation isn’t in the Law but in Jesus who kept the Law for us. This matters today for you because you will find that there are many who want to tell you just exactly how to live and what you can and can’t do if you’re going to be a Christian. Apart from the true commandments of the Law, these commands and rules are made up. They fail to see that the Christian life is lived in Christ and nowhere else.
Jesus died to lift the yoke of the Law from us so that we aren’t burdened by its curse. That doesn’t mean we just go around sinning. It means we live in Christ, trusting that what is sinful has been forgiven by Jesus and that whatever else we do has been sanctified and made holy in God’s sight by our Savior.
For Peter and Paul, the big deal was Jesus whom they preached as the Savior to both Jews and Gentiles. It is He who has rescued us from the curse of the Law that we could not bear and given us new life to live in Him. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
We praise You for Saint Peter; We praise You for Saint Paul; They taught both Jew and Gentile That Christ is all in all. To cross and sword they yielded And saw Your kingdom come; O God, these two apostles Reached life through martyrdom. (LSB 518:19)