3rd Sunday of Easter May 1, 2022



1 Peter 1:17-21

Scripture Readings

Acts 2:14a; 36-47
Luke 24:13-35


15, 53, 188, 371

Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted

+ In the Name of Jesus Christ +

Prayer of the Day: O God, through the humiliation of Your Son You raised up the fallen world. Give to Your faithful people perpetual gladness and eternal joys. We pray this through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

If you call on the Father who judges impartially, according to the work of each person, conduct yourselves during the time of your pilgrimage in reverence, because you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, not with things that pass away, such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like a lamb without blemish or spot. He was chosen before the foundation of the world but revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (EHV)

Are you someone who loves to find a bargain? Do you get excited when you find a really great deal on something? Whether it’s from the grocery store, the thrift store, or from the internet my wife and I usually get pretty excited if we find a really good deal on something. Maybe you’re the same way. Many people are.

However, I think it’s pretty safe to say that no one likes to overpay for something we buy. Especially if we’re going to spend a considerable amount of money on something, we want it to be worth it. I don’t think any of us have ever come home and said, “Honey, good news! I just paid double the Blue Book value for the used car I just bought!” No way! We like to get a good value for what we buy. We like it even more if we get a much greater value than what we’ve paid.

What if God were to put a value on us? How much do you think He’d pay for you? Would you think that God got a bargain when He tells us “I bought you with the precious blood of Christ (v. 19) Jesus, my Son”—or do you think He overpaid? When we look at the human race in general; when we look at our lives—when I look at my life—and ask the question, “How much do you think God would pay for us?” I’d have to answer honestly, “Not much!” Look at the world around us. Look at what an immoral, un-loving, un-caring, selfish, violent, lying, cheating lot we humans can be. Look into the scary darkness of our own hearts and see the greed, the impure thoughts, the selfish motives, and the un-forgiving, bitter attitudes we harbor there. The Bible tells us that by nature our souls are stained with sin, we are born into this world enemies of God (Romans 8:7), and that by nature all our righteousness together are like a big pile of filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)! Again, how much do you think God should have paid for us? Not much.

BUT our text tells us, you were redeemed [bought back]not with things that pass away, such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” (v. 18-19) There is nothing more precious than that! And in doing so, God shows us how precious we are to Him. The price that God paid for you and me to buy us back from our sin and hell was worth more than all the “silver or gold” in the world. As that famous verse, John 3:16, reminds us: God loved the world—He loved us—so much that He gave His only begotten Son.” What would you give up your child for? God gave up His only Son to save the world—to save us! As we were reminded during this past Lenten season, He gave Him up to a horrifying, torturous death on the cross at the hands of the very people He was trying to save. That is love! That is the definition of grace—love that is not deserved.

God loves you so much, in fact, that He not only sent Jesus to save you, but He also led you know about Him, believe in Him, and receive eternal life. Our text tells us that Christ was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (v. 20-21)

Knowing this, how should we now live our lives? First of all, it should change our perspective because He changed our position in life. It means you and I are not worthless; we are no longer dead; we are no longer slaves to the empty way of life (v. 18) of our sinful nature, as Peter puts it in our text. You are a child of God bought and paid for with the precious blood of Christ Himself and you are very precious to Him. That is where we find our worth! Not within ourselves, but outside of ourselves IN CHIRST and in God’s love for us in Him. IN CHRIST you are not worthless. IN CHRIST God see’s you as holy because IN HIM you are forgiven and set free from sin. IN CHRIST you can do all things (Philippians 3:14). IN CHRIST you can endure all things (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13). IN CHRIST you have been given all things (Ephesians 1:3). That means that if you feel worthless, or if you think your life is hopeless, don’t believe it! It is a lie! If Satan or anyone else tries to make you think you’re worthless, or that your life is hopeless don’t believe it! It’s a lie! In the very next chapter Peter reminds us, But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His [God’s] own special people (1 Peter 2:9). That is the truth! Nothing can change that and no one can take that from you!

Secondly, knowing you are a child of God through the “precious blood of Christ” should change the way we live. Peter says in the first verse of our text that as a child of God, If you call on the Father who judges impartially, according to the work of each person, conduct yourselves during the time of your pilgrimage in reverence. (v. 17) What does Peter mean? He means that we honor God and “revere” Him in the way we live our lives, and live them in a way that shows that we take our salvation and God’s wrath against sin seriously. Peter reminds us that God the Father judges impartially, according to the work of each person. (v. 17) The only works that God sees as “good” are ones that flow from faith, for without faith the Bible tells us, it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) The Bible also makes it clear that true faith will produce good works. The Apostle Paul reminds us that this was one of the reasons God bought us with the blood of His Son Jesus, Jesus Christ…gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous [eager] for good works. (Titus 2:14)

These good works are the evidence of our faith. They are what God will judge. If we take a look at our lives and realize that there really isn’t much evidence for our faith that should concern us! Not because we are afraid God doesn’t love us. He obviously does if He paid the ultimate price of His own Son to save us. The problem is with us. We should be concerned that we are taking our salvation lightly. We should be concerned that we are despising God’s grace and the high price He paid to save us. We should be concerned that we are drifting away from God and are in danger of forsaking Him and our faith.

Of course, God wants more than just that we “revere” and honor Him. In the verse that follows our sermon text Peter reminds us of one other important thing that should characterize our new lives as children of God: love! He writes, Since you have purified your souls by obeying the truth, resulting in sincere brotherly love, love one another constantly from a pure heart. (1 Peter 1:22 EHV) When Peter speaks of obeying the truth he means doing what the truth of the Gospel says, namely believe it! And so, by believing the truth of the Gospel we have purified our souls. As a fruit of that faith God calls us to now show sincere brotherly love (our fellow believers) and love one another constantly from a pure heart. (v. 22) That is how God wants us to show our love for Him—by loving each other. God is not speaking here of a love that only loves those who love us back, or a love that is shown in order to gain something for ourselves. It is not a selfish, self-seeking kind of love. In fact, it is not a love that comes from “self” at all! “Sincere,” “constant” love for others “from a pure heart” means a love that is generated by the truth of the Gospel through the Holy Spirit. It is a love that loves others unconditionally because of Christ’s unconditional love for us.

During this Easter season spend some time in the Word reading again for yourself of the precious blood of Christ that paid the ultimate price for your salvation, and the glorious resurrection of Christ that gives you the sure “hope” (v. 21) of your own resurrection on the Last Day. Let Christ’s love and His powerful Word meet in your heart of faith and your heart and life will overflow with “sincere,” “constant” love for others!

So, did God get a bargain when He bought us? No. But He wasn’t “bargain hunting” either. The amazing thing is as far as God was concerned He got a great deal! That’s how much He loves us. That’s how precious we are to Him. He was willing to pay the “full price” for us and our salvation, and so was Jesus. How much should He have paid for us? Nothing! How much did He pay for us? Everything! Why? Simply because He loves us. Let’s not “waste” His love or the precious price of Christ’s shed blood which He paid for us by the empty way of life of sinful, selfish living. Instead, let’s live for Him who died for us and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:15) Amen.

—Pastor Luke Bernthal

St. Stephen Lutheran Churches
Mt. View and Hayward, CA

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