Lectionary Year A
May 5, 2002
1 Peter 3:13-22

Hermeneutical Bridge


Christ, especially His death and descension, has got to be the focal point of this pericope. Few pew sitters will recognize this focal point until and unless our proclamations declare it. Salient features with which the pew sitters can identify include their suffering harm for doing good and/or bad, how we defend our faith and how God cleanses sinners. Secondary features include identifying the challengers, the intimidators and those previously disobedient.


13 Now, who will dare to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 However, if you suffer for doing the right, then you get blessed. Yet, neither fear nor be troubled by what others value. 15 Rather, make holy in your heart the Lord Christ. Thereby, you are always ready to speak answering anyone who questions your hope. 16 With gentleness and respect you gain awareness of doing [and being] good. Therefore, if you get maligned for doing good, those who criticize for good behavior in Christ will be shamed. 17 For it is better to do good even if it hurts, if God so intends, better so even if it is wrong. 18 For Christ also suffered for sin, once and for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God. He was put to death bodily, but given life in the spirit. 19 In that spirit He also went into the underworld and proclaimed [good news] to the spirits there. 20 They, in former times, when Noah was building the ark, disobeyed. This God [so full of patience] waited patiently to save them through the flood waters. 21 And, to you this story prefigures, now baptism, which means salvation. It signifies not removal of dirt from the body. Rather, it promises an awareness of God issuing in a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 22 He has ascended into heaven and sits at God's right hand with angels, authorities and powers made subject to Him.


When people strive to do right, they sometimes find challenges from others either criticizing their attempts, resenting them and/or misunderstanding their motives. People focus so much nowadays on being popular and on doing the done (faddish) things, they need reminders of benefits God provides for those seeking to do right. This pericope addresses the difficulties of being a faithful Christian. It acknowledges that it can get tough living for Christ and with God. We need the reminders of Christ's works and God's patience. Then, we might be more than ready to respond by developing a clear conscience, a diligent defense and sensitive responses to others. The extents to which God goes seem, according to this passage, to be endless. That's good news!


Used by permission from Lectionary Tales for the Pulpit by Merle G. Franke.

Living From the Inside Out

      Julie was a well respected senior in high school. She was near the top of her class scholastically and she was involved in a number of extracurricular activities as well. During Thanksgiving break she had visited one Ivy League-type college which her parents wanted her to check out. Then on a weekend before Christmas break she visited another of the same genre. She wasn't happy with either college.

      From the time she was in kindergarten Julie had enjoyed a special friendship with an older woman next door. During her teenage years she often confided with that special friend who was known by the unusual nickname of Aunt Chip. "How did you get such a strange nickname?" she had asked several times during her growing up years.

      And Aunt Chip had always answered the same way. "People so often said I was a chip off the old block, that finally people got to calling me Chip, and the name stuck. So now I'm Aunt Chip."

      Julie loved Aunt Chip. She not only devoured her home baked goodies with abandon, but she could talk openly and without reservation with her on any subject.

      Today was one of those times when Julie needed to talk frankly with Aunt Chip. "Auntie, I've been to two colleges that my parents wanted me to visit, and ... I don't like either one of them. I didn't feel comfortable there."

      "Do you know what made you uncomfortable?" Aunt Chip asked.

      "Well, I don't know. I guess it was the attitude of some of the kids I met. I mean, they seemed so concerned about superficial things, things that aren't important to me. But they seemed to talk like the whole world depended upon what they might wear to a dance, for instance." She continued, "They seemed so concerned about what others would think about them. I guess I didn't have the nerve to tell them I don't place that much importance on what others think about me. My folks tell me I should do what I think is right, and not worry about what others think. What do you think?"

      "Well, I think your folks are right on track. You don't need to feel the way others feel, even though I know it's hard to break from the crowd, especially when everyone else seems to be thinking a certain way," Aunt Chip offered.

      Julie seemed not to hear for a moment, then asked softly, "Do you know how hard it is to be different from your peers? Do you realize, for instance, how conscious young people are about what others will think of them?"

      "I've heard that about a lot of people, not just college kids," Aunt Chip replied. "I'm sure it's difficult to stand up for what you think is right."

      "It's intimidating, that's what it is," Julie said firmly.

      "But I'll bet you can stand up to them," Aunt Chip said as she gave Julie a warm hug.

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