On a recent trip to visit my mom, my sister and brother-in-law gave me something they had found in my parents’ house where they are currently living. Apparently before he passed away, my father had tucked a couple of old cigars boxes into a corner in the basement. My brother-in-law found the boxes and the attached note that said “For Brian.”
When I sat for the first time and opened the boxes and began to look through the contents, I wasn’t sure what to think about what I found. The boxes were filled with coins; some quite old, others not so much so. There were a few handwritten notes from my dad explaining some of the items.
I now have the boxes at my home. I’m still trying to assess just what it is that I have. I will probably take the coins to an appraiser, just to get a real sense of the value of what my father left for me. And it is that feeling of having something of value but not knowing just what it is that I have, that gives me a sense of what Peter wrote about in his first letter.
As we’ve already noted, in the opening few verses of his first epistle, Peter gives us a glimpse of the Gospel. He summarizes the essence of the good news–the new birth, a changed life, a promised future, a secure present. When he gets to the tenth verse, it is this “salvation” that he has in mind:
As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven — things into which angels long to look. ~ 1 Peter 1:10–12
Those who foretold (in the Old Testament Scriptures) of the promise that was to come did not fully understand what it was the Spirit was leading them to speak and write about. But the Old Testament prophets knew:
That there was a coming “Messiah” (translated “Christ”).
This coming Deliverer would suffer.
That after the suffering “glories” would follow.
They were aware, through the Spirit, that they were not simply “serving themselves” but speaking of the things of the Gospel–an announcement of “good news” that would ultimately bring blessing to people like Peter’s readers (and people like us!).
And then comes a staggering statement. All of this pre-telling, all of the promises made and now fulfilled, all of the revelation of the plan of God throughout history, all of that is something “into which angels long to look.” But what does that mean?
I don’t think this means that the angels are clueless about the great saving work of God. (After all, the angels rejoice over God’s work in saving sinners–see Luke 15:8–10.) Luke used this same relatively rare word for “look” in describing Peter. Luke wrote (in Luke 24:12) that Peter had to bend over–to stoop–so as to purposefully look into the empty tomb on the resurrection morning. That was an eager, fascinated looking.
So what doesPeter’s language imply? That the angels–who do not have the kind of first-hand experience of the salvation we enjoy–are so impressed by what God is doing they figuratively bend down in order to catch a glimpse of the good and glorious thing that is happening in us and to us by God’s grace.
We are not like the prophets who need to speculate about the work of God on our behalf. We are not like the angles who strain to catch a glimpse of the great work of God on behalf of sinners. We are those who–because of our experience of the grace that comes to us in Jesus–get to see, get to taste, get to live into this blessed salvation!
In these few verses, we get the “professional appraisal” of the salvation that is ours. Prophets were impressed and angels awed with just a glimpse of what is ours. How much more should our hearts rejoice . . . if only we were to see it!