1 Peter 2:11: “I urge you to abstain from the passions (lusts) of the flesh.” The lust of the flesh is to hold the breath, wrap the self in fig leaves, and die, forever alone… a vessel of wrath (Me-sus). The lust (passion) of the Spirit is communion. “In lust, I have lusted to eat this Passover with you,” said Jesus in Luke 22:14 on the night before he hung on the tree in the garden and delivered up his Spirit. The lust of the Spirit is communion with all of us (The Body of Jesus).

1 Peter 2:12: “…keeping your conduct among the unbelievers beautiful, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your beautiful deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” As we saw last time, wounds on the Body of Christ are open doors to the New Jerusalem coming down when, in the name of Jesus, we forgive. The “beautiful deeds” are ways in which we bleed the life, even as others take the life.

The beautiful deed is offering your ration of broken bread, even as your enemy steals that ration of broken bread from you, as Richard Wurmbrand repeatedly did while imprisoned in communist Romania.

1 Peter 2:13-3:7, Peter gives more examples of these “beautiful deeds.” Three times he uses the verb hupotasso, to subject, in reference to three groups of people.
#1) He tells everyone (That’s the first group.) to “be subject to human institutions”—for example, “the emperor.”
#2) He fleshes this out, writing, “house servants (slaves) being subject to your masters (‘despotes’ in Greek).” And,
#3) “Wives being subject to your husbands.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, “that all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . . inalienable.” Peter seems to disagree with Thomas Jefferson—Jefferson, who led a rebellion against the emperor and owned hundreds of slaves, of whom one was his wife. And what Peter writes is certainly not “self-evident,”, considering the fact that the emperor in his day was named Nero, and he basically lived next door.

So, what is a “human institution,” a “principality and power of this age?” It is a bunch of souls bound together with legislation in a covenant of self-centeredness. It’s collective faith in “we-sus” (we are salvation), in order to save “me-sus” (“me” is salvation).

Human institutions are constructed using three tools: Promises to protect individual “rights,” threats to punish those that violate those “rights” (…of your constituents. No one can protect the “rights” of all until all agree), and Scapegoating.

In Leviticus, the High Priest was commanded to cast lots over two goats to determine which one would be the “sin offering” and which one would be “the scapegoat.” On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest was to then sacrifice the sin offering burning its body outside the camp but taking its blood behind the curtain in the Holy of Holies and sprinkling it on the Mercy Seat, the Throne of God. He was then told to confess “all the iniquities” of Israel upon the Scapegoat and then release it into the wilderness. It’s rather remarkable, for it means that none of the iniquities of Israel were actually atoned for with the sacrifice of the “sin offering (the goat, that is)” but all the iniquities of Israel were on the scapegoat in “Azazel.”

Well, to build a human institution, just make promises and threats, and find a scapegoat.

In Romania, the scapegoat was a group—Christians like Richard Wurmbrand. In 1990 I traveled to Romania and was surprised to discover that it wasn’t an army that overthrew the despot, Nicolae Ceausescu; it was worshipers. I think they were saying, “If Jesus is like Richard Wurmbrand, Lazlo Tokes, and Petru Dugulescu, then we love him too.”

1 Peter 2:16: “Live as people who are free… as slaves of God.”

In 1965, Dr. Robert Coles was assigned to six-year-old Ruby Bridges by a federal judge concerned for her mental health. Dr. Coles was amazed at the apparent “life, liberty, and happiness” of little Ruby, considering the fact that she had to walk past an enormous angry mob of white people yelling invectives at her on her way to school every day, where she sat alone with her teacher, for no white students were allowed to attend with her. One day she was observed apparently talking to the angry mob. When questioned, she informed Dr. Coles that she wasn’t talking to them but praying to God for them. Incredulous, Dr. Coles said, “You pray for them!” A little confused Ruby said, “Well don’t you think they need praying for?” “So, what do you pray?” asked Dr. Coles. “I always pray the same thing,” said Ruby, “Please try and forgive them, God, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” You see it wasn’t just Ruby that was praying.

There are two ways you could rid the world of the evil institution of slavery. #1) You could turn everyone into a “master,” perpetually demanding their “rights,” “safe” within an impenetrable fortress that was once a living soul. And #2) perhaps you could romance everyone into freely choosing to be a slave, like yourself, until all had surrendered their “rights” and gladly bled for their neighbor. . . like members of a body.

1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree… By his wounds, you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:22-25, tucked between these three examples of submission, is Peter’s recitation of Isaiah 53. Isaiah 53 seems to clearly be a description of the Messiah as “the Scapegoat,” except that Isaiah and Peter also speak of the Messiah as being “the Sin offering,” that actually “bears” our sin on “the tree.” It paints a fascinating and wonderful picture.

Some, like Renee Girard, argue that the sacrifice of Christ reveals how evil all of our scapegoating is. And it does. But Girard ignores the fact that the scapegoat is not a sacrifice but actually an incarnation of that which is NOT sacrificed, the breath in the blood that is not returned to its source in the heart of the temple.

The Sacrifice of Christ is Knowledge of Evil (That we have each taken the Life and imprisoned it in a vessel of wrath, the ego). But the Sacrifice of Christ is also Knowledge of the Good (That what we take, “the Life,” God freely gives that we might also give as vessels of Mercy—blood vessels freely bleeding a river of Life in the resurrected body of Christ).

Jesus allowed all of us to make him just what he always was, our scapegoat. On Good Friday we all blamed him, but he refused to blame us, as on the tree he cried, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” He delivered up the Spirit. The curtain in the temple ripped. And people began to repent for he has repented us. He expired our sin. And God inspired him with Life in his Body which is us. Sin is damming the blood and holding the breath; righteousness is sacrificing the blood and breathing the breath—righteousness is Love.

Jesus is romancing you just outside your city walls. You will love much, for you will see that you are forgiven much, for you will watch all your scapegoats—the last and the least of these—bleed for you as wounds in the Body of Christ. And your walls will come tumbling down.

1 Peter 3:1 “Likewise, wives, being subject to your husbands…” 1 Peter 3: 7 “Likewise husbands live with your wives according to knowledge…”

In 64 AD, as Nero was ravaging the church, Peter fled Rome but had a vision of Jesus walking in the opposite direction into the City. He said, “Where are you going Lord?” Jesus replied, “I’m going to be crucified.” Peter turned and ran back into Rome, where he was crucified for, and with, his beloved. Peter, John, and Paul all believed that they were his Bride and Body. . . and that Life in His Body is fullness of Joy in the Kingdom of God.

We’re not believers because someone demanded their “rights.”
We believe because Christ in someone, like Peter, sacrificed their “rights” to God on behalf of us all.

Peter isn’t saying, “The Emperor, the slave owners, and your controlling husband are right.” He’s saying, “They’re wrong. And this is how we make them right.”

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love is a communion of endless sacrificial delight. In Him is Life.

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