March 18 - 1 Peter 5:1-7

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

1 Peter 5:1-7 – Humility

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

At the beginning of this letter, Peter identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ.  Now, he tells us that he witnessed Christ's sufferings and has confidence he will share in the coming glory.

Imagine what is going through Peter's mind as he writes this. He remembers the arrest in Gethsemane (Mark 14:43-46), the beatings (Matthew 27:28-31) and denial (Matthew 26:69-75), and the crucifixion (Luke 23:44-46) as he identifies himself as a witness to Christ's suffering.  Without missing a beat, he speaks of the glory that he saw revealed in the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36).

The next verse is reminiscent of Jesus' conversation with Peter in John 21:15-18. Jesus healed the pain of Peter's denial and removed the sting of those moments by asking him to feed the sheep that would be in his care. Peter now extends this command to the elders of the church.  "Tend to the sheep ... feed them ... take care of them."

He would have remembered Jesus tearing through the courtyards of the temple in Luke 19:45-46 as he upended tables and insisted that the overseers not be greedy with the money that comes in to them as gifts. Peter was not speaking of the money that was due them, but additional funds that came in for tending to the flock.

When Jesus taught the disciples in Luke 22:24-30 about who would be the greatest among them, he said that kings and great men who lorded it over their people were not personalities to be emulated. Peter listened and translated those words back to his readers.  By the time Peter gets to 1 Peter 5:5, we know that he is remembering that very strong lesson in John 13:1-17 when Jesus knelt down to wash his feet.

Even though it goes against everything we are taught in this culture, we must remember that we humble ourselves - under God's mighty hand.  And why? So that he may lift us up in due time.  Our time is not His time, our plans may not be His plans. Only by stepping under that hand ... will we find ourselves walking in harmony with our Lord.

Holiness takes us to our knees before God.