Our Living Hope - From Falling Flowers to Eternal Word
“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:24-25 ESV) He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! Easter is not just a one-day event, but rather the one event that changes every day! During this Easter season here at International Lutheran Church we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Our Living Hope” as we read through the Epistle of 1 Peter. Today, Peter reminds us of what is truly permanent. While change and decay are a part of our everyday lives, Peter reminds us of the good news made sure in Jesus’ Resurrection that the Word of the Lord endures forever!
While change can sometimes be welcome and refreshing, at other times it can be very stressful and disheartening especially when that change includes loss. The downcast journey of Cleopas and his friend to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) reflect this as they meet a visitor to Jerusalem seemingly oblivious to the events of Jesus’ crucifixion. (“We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” Luke 24:21) While their hope had seemingly become overinflated and burst with disillusionment, the Risen Jesus walked with them and explained from the Scriptures how the Messiah must first suffer before entering His glory. This truth of the cross and the empty tomb is what sets faith in Jesus apart from all our attempts to find permanence in this world or in ourselves.
For Peter, the suffering and resurrection of Jesus is what redemption is all about. This pattern of the cross and empty tomb sets us apart and makes us exiles or strangers in the world in which we live. We don’t belong here because we belong to Him who died and rose again. In the Small Catechism, Luther uses Peter’s words to explain what it means for Jesus to be our Lord. “He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. All this he did that I should be his own, and live under him in his kingdom...” (Luther’s Small Catechism, the explanation of the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed).
Our redemption does not mean that we are here just waiting around to go to heaven. Rather, we live here even under the most difficult of situations, with the living hope that our permanence is in Him who made us and redeemed us. The cross declares that our lives as exiles and ‘withering grass’ should serve our neighbor. Like Peter, we are a living testimony to God’s grace as we grow in our appreciation of His love for us and all people. We share His love with one another. We use the gifts and talents He has given us to bless our neighbor. While the ‘flower fades’ and decays, and our lives grow dim, His Word - His spoken message of grace and forgiveness - only grows brighter and brighter. From falling flowers to His Eternal Word, this is our Living Hope! He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!