|DEATH AND LIFE
2 PETER 1:12-21
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
August 9, 1998
I invite you to turn with me to 2 Peter 1 - starting at verse 12 - and I’d like for us to read this passage and then we’ll talk about it. The Apostle Peter is writing:
Therefore I intend always to remind you of these things, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have - what Peter means by “these things” is what it means to personally know Jesus and to be growing in that relationship - I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to arouse you by way of reminder, - since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me - And I will see to it that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made know to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. “For when He - Jesus - received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
In a few minutes we are going to come together to celebrate communion - remembering Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf - and our belief in His return. In preparing our thoughts for communion - we’d like to focus on what we’re doing with our lives. What really is the purpose of our lives?
This last week - Tuesday - I turned 38. And it was really strange - because I’m noticing that birthdays really don’t have the significance - that they used to. As time is passing I find myself thinking about what I’m doing with my life. We all get “X” number of years - what great purpose should their be in our lives? If we had one thing to invest ourselves in - what would ultimately have the greatest value?
I recently read something and thinking about our topic this morning I wanted to share it with you.
I have good news for you. The first 80 years are the hardest. The second 80 are a succession of birthday parties.
Once you reach 80, everyone wants to carry your baggage and help you up the steps. If you forget your name or somebody else’s name, or an appointment, or your own telephone number, or promise to be three places at the same time, or can’t remember how many grandchildren you have, you need only explain that you are 80.
Being 80 is a lot better than being 70. At 70 people are mad at you for everything. At 80 you have the perfect excuse no matter what you do. If you act foolishly, it’s your second childhood. Everybody is looking for symptoms of softening of the brain.
Being 70 is no fun at all. At that age they expect you to retire to a house in Florida and complain about your arthritis, and you ask everybody to stop mumbling because you can’t understand them (actually your hearing is 50 percent gone).
If you survive until you are 80, everybody is surprised that you are still alive. They treat you with respect just for having lived so long. Actually they seem surprised that you can walk and talk sensibly.
So please, folks, try to make it to 80. It’s the best time of life. People forgive you for anything. If you ask me, life begins at 80.
1. PETER’S PURPOSE IN LIFE (verses 12-15)Have you ever wondered what you would do different - or if you would do some things different - if you knew when and where you would die? I know one person who said, “If I knew when and where I would die I would never go there.”
If you knew that next Tuesday at 4:36 p.m. you were going to die - would you do anything different between now and then? Buy a life insurance policy? Go blow your life’s savings on something absolutely worthless?
What was Peter’s purpose in life? Where did he invest his time and effort?
In John 21:18,19, we read that Jesus told Peter the circumstances of Peter’s death. Jesus told Peter that after a season of ministry and maturing - when Peter was older - he would be led against his wishes to his death - a death that was the result of following in obedience to Jesus.
In 64 A.D. Peter - along with the Apostle Paul - was in Rome. 31 years have gone by since Jesus told Peter the circumstances of Peter’s death. Peter is now in his 60’s. He’s had a long ministry. He’s matured. And he and Paul are there in obedience to Jesus - sharing His Gospel with others.
64 A.D. is also important because that was the year the emperor Nero set Rome on fire and then blamed the Christians - ordering hundreds of Christians to be killed in various cruel ways. Nero hates Christians - and he also hates Peter and Paul. Through their ministry some of Nero’s own household had come to trust Jesus as their Savior.
Around this time - there was magician in Rome - named Simon Magus - who pretended he could fly through the air and do all kinds of things that no one else could do. One day Simon Magus was performing in front of a large crowd - and Peter and Paul were in that crowd.
And apparently Peter and Paul prayed that God would confuse the magician and end his abilities. And when they finished praying Simon Magus fell and broke both his legs.
Nero liked Simon Magus so he had Peter and Paul thrown into prison for nine months. - during which time -while they were in prison Peter and Paul kept on sharing the Gospel - and two Captains of the Guard and 47 others came to trust in Jesus as their Savior.
Nero had Peter brought out for execution - scourged him - which was absolutely cruel torture - and then had him crucified - at Peter’s request - he was crucified up-side-down.
All this came about in the way and timing that Jesus had shared with Peter some 31 years earlier.
We may not know when and where we’re going to die. But, unless Jesus comes back pretty soon - we will all die. Peter, knowing when and how he would die - just kept right on doing what Jesus had called him to do - preach the Gospel - bring people to Jesus and help them grow in that relationship.
That’s his purpose in life. In 2 Peter 1:12 he says, I’m going to use the time I have left to remind you of what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. In verse 14 he says, I know that my death is coming soon - but I want to keep sharing with you so that when I’m gone you will remember what I’ve said. That’s a man who is focused on the purpose that God has called him to in life.
Parents - the greatest thing that you can do for children is to share the Gospel with them - by how you live and what you say to them. At work - share the Gospel. In the community - wherever God takes you this week - share the Gospel. Here at church - in this community of faith - there is no greater purpose for our lives than to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ - and as Peter says, “to arouse” each other - to wake each other up - to living out our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Now, the second thing we want to think about this morning - in considering our purpose in life is this: Where did Peter get the confidence to live his life like that? Even facing death - to keep on proclaiming Christ!
2. PETER’S CONFIDENCE (verses 16-21)In 2 Peter 1:16-18 Peter writes about an event which we have come to call “The Transfiguration”. Jesus has been teaching about His going to Jerusalem and His death. A teaching which greatly worried the disciples. And, they needed confirmation as to who Jesus really is.
Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with Him up a high mountain. And while they’re on that mountain Jesus is completely changed - transfigured - His face is shining like the sun and His clothes become white as light. The three disciples are given a privileged glimpse of Jesus’ Godly glory.
As they’re standing there - Moses and Elijah appear talking with Jesus - and a bright shinning cloud passes over them and the audible voice of God speaks from the cloud. “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!”
This scene is a powerful confirmation - by God - that Jesus really is the Christ - the one that all the Old Testament prophets spoke of. If Peter had any questions - the experience he had on the Mount of Transfiguration removed any doubts.
In verse 19, Peter writes, “And we have the prophetic word made more sure.” Everything that Peter had heard from Jesus was absolutely true - everything about life and death - about faith in Him - forgiveness of our sins and being right with God - and eternal life - is true. He is who He says He is.
One of the saddest realities of the society that we live in - is that people are continually expressing a desire to know God - but have absolutely no idea who He is or how to find Him. There are so many philosophies and ideas and religions out there.
What Peter believes and writes about is not some myth - a “cleverly invented story” - an idea about how to know God. He saw God - touched Him - talked with Him - wandered around Judea with Him.
The meaning for us who know Jesus as our Savior - who share in this communion meal - is the purpose and confidence we have as we face death and life.
Paul writes - in 1 Corinthians - verse 26: For until the Lord comes, you proclaim His death whenever you eat this bread and drink from this cup.
When we come to this communion table it should be with the same purpose that Peter lived his life by - facing death - physical mortality - he used his time to continually proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To eat this bread and drink from this cup - is to proclaim our confidence in Jesus. Everything He said about Himself - and God - salvation and life - and His return is true.