Through faith we are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time…. May the proven genuineness of your faith […] result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed…. Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming…. [Jesus] was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake (1 Peter 1:5, 7, 13, 20).
The word “reveal” means to unmask, unveil, or make manifest. This assumes that something is already a reality but has not yet become fully known or apparent — that is is already occuring but has in some sense remained hidden. Jesus Christ is already reigning in heaven as king from his place of honour at the right hand of God the Father, but has yet to be reavealed to the whole world as the true king.
The Bible (both the Old Testament and the New) speaks about a time when God’s appointed Saviour will descend and bring this present age to a close and commence the age of God’s physical reign and kingdom on this earth. The expectation that this event was imminent was very much part of the early Christian community’s identity and theology. Now, Peter doesn’t give a timeline here, but the fact that he mentions the revealing of Jesus Christ four times in one chapter gives us a hint to how important that fact was to his theology and ethics. To be aware of Jesus’ return help Christ followers to be living both for the reward that Jesus will bestow upon his followers.
In this season of Advent, we wait for the Second Coming of Christ as the Israelites waited for the first one (the first coming being in “these last times” that Peter refers to in v. 20). We are poised, ready, waiting, and expectant. There will likely be something strange and unexpected about it, too, if the first coming was an indication. The Israelites expected a military conquuered, but God gave them a spiritual Saviour. I wonder in what ways our ideas about the Second Coming and how Jesus will present himself are wrong.
As I write these words, I have two thoughts: (1) Do I live every moment of every day with the conscious realization that Jesus not only could come at any moment, but really that he is coming at all? And (2) How would my life be different if I did hold this thought in the forefront of my mind> I can imagine that sin would have a diminished allure, because the reality of what Jesus had in store for me would be so strong. But it certainly wouldn’t just be about what I was not to do, but what I should do: showing mercy, spreading the Word, encouraging the saints, and keeping an attentive ear.
Lord Jesus, until you come, allow us the grace and the perseverance to live in the light of your return. May we be about those things which you desire to be about, and shun those sins which so easily ensare us, that we may receive the reward that you have laid out for us — those who you chose before the foundation of the world to love and serve you.