THE ETERNAL MARVEL

Christ-following, Discipleship, Uncategorized

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. 1 Peter 1:8-12

Peter wrote enduring words that have resonated with hope and courage in the hearts of God’s elect for generations. I am one who has been greatly encouraged by them. When I consider the goal of my faith, the salvation of my soul, I am strengthened and filled with joy. But I find throughout the Word the indications that my and all humanity’s salvation, absorbing as it is to us, is a source of wonder to the rest of creation that causes them to be in awe of Christ, not of us. We are not the most interesting part of the story.

I have meditated on this a lot over the years. This paragraph in 1 Peter is one of the prompts. It first considers the prophets. I have great respect for the prophets. They were a motley cast of characters with diverse backgrounds, but they all wound up with something in common: They caught a glimpse of Christ and it ruined them for anything else. Granted, some saw longer glimpses than others, but for all of them, it was as if the shutter opened for an instant to reveal a flash of what was to come and then closed again, leaving them with inexplicable images that were, nonetheless, vivid enough to consume them with longing to see more. “[They] searched intently and with the greatest care…” They glimpsed the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow and the marvel of it enthralled them. No individual saw very much and collectively, though the people of God understood from them that Messiah was coming, no one saw the full, appalling truth of how Messiah would save His people. Jesus himself, in his resurrected state, had to put the pieces together for them and bring them to that “Aha” of understanding that made the truly committed believers who would go on to their deaths proclaiming the gospel to the nations. Thus the faithfulness of the prophets was fulfilled, when their words became reality: Christ suffered and glory followed.

But it is the last sentence of the above paragraph from 1 Peter that intrigues me more: “Even angels long to look into these things.” I know I am absurdly unqualified to intelligently guess what goes on in the minds of angels, but working with the bits I have in scripture, this is what I imagine. As creatures with no experience of personal sin, but are instead those intimately acquainted with the beauty of the holiness of the Godhead, they also had to have been unable to anticipate the lengths that He would go to to redeem wretched mankind. They know that we are dust animated by His breath, flesh and spirit combined, who squandered the spirit and separated ourselves from our Glory. They know that He is the maker of heaven and earth, holy and eternal, to whom all honor and obedience belongs. Yet they witness His persistent interaction with us, not treating us as our sins deserve and revealing himself to this unworthy mass with glimpses that they probably couldn’t decipher any better than Isaiah, Ezekiel or their brethren. The prophets knew the need for our salvation. The angels knew the glory of God. Neither had the others’ depth of insight. And no one knew the fullness of the heart of God but He Himself. So as the story unfolded, everyone was stunned and awed at what God did. And He is not done yet. Until the Day of Christ, all creation watches with wonder to see how He will complete the tale. And from what I read in Revelation, we will all, mankind and angels and the rest of creation that we are yet unacquainted with, will bow down before the throne, proclaiming our praise of what He did. Each will be able to praise Him for the part we experienced, with the various points of view enriching the story to increase our awe of Him. But that’s the point I want to emphasize: it will all be about Him.

I am grateful that He is saving me. I recognize what I deserve and have an inkling of what is in store for me instead, because of His great mercy. But more and more, I realize that the best part of my salvation is that I will be able to contribute my wee bit, my testimony, to the glorious account of God’s goodness that all creation will be recounting for eternity. It is, and always will be, all about Him.

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