The Apostle Peter is a very unique character in the Bible. He was one of the early disciples of Jesus, and is sometimes referred to as the disciple who lived with his foot in his mouth. Peter was always acting first, and thinking later. Sometimes that is a great quality to have, but other times, it can get you into trouble. As erratic as Peter tended to be, he was a man who experienced the grace of God in a completely transforming way. He was the one who denied Jesus three times, but repented, was forgiven by God, and became a devoted follower of Jesus who was eventually martyred for his faith. He understood very personally and very deeply that Jesus changes everything.
Peter wrote two short letters in the New Testament. His letters were written to Christians who were suffering, and who were scattered all over due to the persecution they were facing. As he wrote to them, he wanted them to know that following Jesus was worth whatever trial they were facing. He wanted them to know who Jesus is, what He offers, and how following Him changes every aspect of their life for the good. In the beginning of Peter’s first letter, there are three things he speaks of that reveal how Jesus changes everything. It is these three things that remind us what Christmas is truly all about.
First, Jesus changes everything by giving living hope. 1 Peter 1:3 tells us that God’s mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In other words, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, there is nothing too great that He cannot conquer. For those who have embraced Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, there is a hope He brings to our hearts that is not dead, but is alive. Jesus gives us living hope.
For many, the Christmas season can be difficult. Some people, like my family, have lost a loved one, and this time of the year brings great grief. The only encouragement and joy we have comes from the fact that we will see our Christian loved ones again. Because of what Jesus has done, not even death can overcome or separate us from one another. Christians have a living hope because we serve the Living God. I pray we never forget that!
Second, Jesus changes everything by giving an eternal inheritance. Peter also wrote in his letter that, in Christ, believers receive an eternal inheritance that is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.” He went on to say, “In this, rejoice, though now for a little while you have been grieved by various trials.” This is a great encouragement to any Christian who is struggling. For the Christian, this world is as bad as it will ever get. God’s eternal Kingdom is much greater and much more excellent than anything we could ever imagine. Christians can rejoice in their trials because their trials are producing for them an inheritance that will never fade or perish.
Finally, Jesus changes everything by giving inexpressible joy. Peter went on to say, “Though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him, and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible…” It is as if Peter was saying, “Yes, you will have to suffer for a while, but it’s worth it. Keep your eyes on Jesus and He will fill your life with inexpressible joy! Not cheap happiness, not fleeting emotionalism, but deep-rooted joy that only comes in Christ.” This Christmas season, do not pursue joy, pursue Christ, who will bring you joy. Life can be hard, overwhelming, and stressful, but God wants to fill your life with His presence, and as the Psalmist said, “In His presence, there is fullness of joy.”
As you ponder this, remember that Jesus changes everything. He gives us a living hope, the promise of eternal inheritance, and a joy that is inexpressible! Merry Christmas!