By Benjamin H. Liles
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, ~ 1 Peter 3:18, NKJV
What Peter is getting at in this verse is that Christ's righteousness is credited to us even though we aren't deserving of it. It brings back to my mind where Isaiah is before God, having just had a vision of Him. He's seen God's holiness and is unworthy of the Heavenly sight. An angel of the Lord has to come to him, Isaiah, and purifies him with a piece of coal (see Isaiah 6:1-7). In several Old Testament passages we see those who have touched something unclean become unclean (Leviticus 22:4, Numbers 19:22, Hosea 9:4, and Haggai 2:13).
So, why isn't this piece of coal that touches Isaiah's lips not made unclean and what does it represent? The reason is twofold. The first thing that is impressed upon me is that those things which are set apart as holy remain holy, regardless of what it touches. If a piece of coal that touches a man's lips makes him pure, as in Isaiah's case, then it doesn't become tainted by sin. The second thing is what the coal represents, which is an illustration of what Jesus the Messiah does for us.
We need to be made aware of what Jesus did on behalf of those who came to Him to be healed. He didn't just forgive people of their sins. Those who He touched or who touched Him were made whole and clean. Their uncleanness never made Him unclean. Why? It is because Jesus never sinned. Since He was sent from Heaven's throne to become one of us He would do all that the Father was accomplishing on our behalf (see Matthew 14:35-36, Mark 6:56).
What's truly being said in all of this? How can we apply these verses to our lives? Since Peter is saying that Jesus brings us to God coming to suffer and die on our behalf we are brought to life in Him. The life He had and laid down for us becomes ours. Not only that but because of His resurrection we have life eternal. He overcame death and the grave; the result being that we can partake in that life as well.
Therefore the application we come away with is that we can put off our old ways. We can have a new life in Jesus. We become part of His church. A church isn't made up of buildings, but of people. With the death Jesus provided on our behalf He only suffered once and even then put the principalites and powers on display. All of these having been put under His feet means we don't have to be afraid of what men can do, but to have a healthy fear of Jesus who will judge those who have done wickedly (see Psalm 118:6, Matthew 10:28).
Father God, even in your holiness You have found a way to bring us back to life. You call us clean when we're unclean. You bring us into relationship with You. You heal us through Your Son, Jesus who is also God in the flesh. We thank you for the deed You did in our place. I ask that You keep watch over your people. I also praise You for the goodness that You are. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.