1 Peter 1:10-12
Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come to you:…
I. THE EXTRAORDINARY SUBJECT. What is the subject? "The sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow." Open this Book, spread out its pages, and what have you? A wide-spread canvas, on which is displayed this one great subject in every hue and form. This picture is divided into two parts. At one end you have "the sufferings of Christ"; at the other end "the glory arising out of these sufferings." The side on which the sufferings are depicted is full of incident, yet in dark shade. There you see the Babe. In one part, you see Him lying in a manger; in another, in the temple undergoing the painful rite of circumcision; and in another, in the arms of His affrighted mother fleeing into Egypt. But on the other end of the picture you have a striking contrast. Here is "the glory that follows." Here you see Him rising from the grave as the conqueror of death, the Prince of Life, and ascending to heaven amidst the rapturous shouts of an exulting creation. What glory will rise out of these sufferings! What new manifestations of God! What new motives to virtue! What new thrills of joy! Amongst the lessons which this extraordinary picture suggests we may mention three: —
1. The malignant animus of sin. What produced these sufferings of Christ that you see depicted here? Sin.
2. The benign tendency of the Divine government. Glory comes out of these sufferings; good is educed from evil. This is God's work. As out of sin comes suffering, out of suffering shall come glory.
3. The issue of suffering virtue. The sufferings of Christ were the sufferings of virtue; and they issued in glory. And so it will ever be. Goodness, however persecuted and afflicted, shall yet ascend the throne.
II. THE DISTINGUISHED ARTISTS. Who are the men that drew this wonderful picture? The text speaks of two classes; The prophets who prophesied of the "grace that should come unto you"; and the apostles who "reported." The prophets drew the dim and shadowy outline. The other class of artists are the apostles. "The things" concerning Christ which the prophets "did minister," the apostles "reported"; they "reported" them when they preached the gospel "with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." The apostles, as artists, had an advantage over the prophets: they had those outlines of our Saviour's history which the old prophets had drawn. And they had in connection with this, the living subject, Christ. He had appeared amongst them, they had seen Him, and talked with Him. They therefore tilled up the outlines of the picture which the old prophets had drawn.
III. THE INSPIRING GENIUS. All real art implies genius. Genius to conceive the true and to embody it — creative and executive genius. Who was the inspiring genius of this painting? Peter tells us that in the prophets' case it was "the Spirit of Christ that was in them"; and in the apostles' case, "the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." This appears clear from the very nature of the work. Before a being can draw a correct picture of another he must have two things — a correct image of the subject in his own mind, and the proper skill correctly to transfer that image to the canvas.
1. The character of the subject. How did the prophets and apostles get a conception of Him whom they here depict? — a character so thoroughly unique, so entirely adverse to a priori impression and observation too! The highest virtue associated with the greatest suffering; the most despised man in personal connection with God. Things so contrary meeting in the same one life, render the idea of man creating such a history out of his own imagination all but absurd. The "Spirit of Christ," within them, gave them an image of some strange personage, but they knew not of whom.
2. The method of execution. A man may form a correct image of a person, and yet lack the artistic skill to transfer it to the canvas. The execution of the subject is, indeed, as unique as the conception. All mere human art is labour; effort is seen in every touch. But these men, in a few simple words about what they saw and heard, present the hero life-like in every point. The "Spirit of Christ" that was in them, not only drew to their imagination the manifold aspect of His own being, but guided their pencil in every line, to portray the same. In human productions, both in literature and art, the author generally appears, and some times is offensively prominent. But not so here.
IV. THE ILLUSTRIOUS SPECTATORS. "Into which things the angels desire to look." But why should they be so interested in it?
1. Because it is suited to excite their intellectual natures. Anything extraordinary has a power to rouse the inquiring faculty.
2. Because it is suited to excite their religious natures. To a devout spirit nothing is more interesting or attractive than a manifestation of God.
3. Because it is suited to excite their benevolent natures.
V. THE GLORIOUS PURPOSE.
1. Look at the universality of the purpose. "Not for themselves," but "unto us they did minister these things."
2. Look at the blessedness of the purpose. "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: