1 PETER 3. 13-22
Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing
what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in
your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who
demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and
reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse
you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing
good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered
for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was
put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a
proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited
patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight
persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you – not
as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through
the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God,
with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

I’m not a huge fan of my own company. I’m not saying there aren’t times when I value being
on my own, but I am saying that if I felt like I was completely alone on a more permanent
basis I wouldn’t be keen. I reckon I’d be irritable and frustrated, annoyed that everyone I
spoke to wasn’t quite up to speed with all my thoughts. It would be worse if I was alone and
in peril, feeling like there might be nobody around to rescue me from a tight spot isn’t
something I’d like to experience in a hurry. But life can sometimes feel very lonely, and I
imagine that the disciples might have felt very alone and isolated when Jesus wasn’t around.
Particularly after his death, Jesus’ disciples might be heading into the territory where they
feel they might not be rescued, however John’s gospel offers some teaching and wisdom
from Jesus today for us all to hear, words which he said to his disciples before things started
to happen. Jesus said, ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.’ Remember where
we are in the story. This is the night of Jesus’ betrayal. And what does Jesus say to the
disciples, who were by the end of this night going to be scattered across Jerusalem and the
surrounding area? On this night of confusion, fear, betrayal and mystery, he says, ‘I will not
leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.’ Humans are naturally social and on the whole we
like to have someone around, near, accessible to us. It is built into us as a desire to seek
God. Longing for a relationship with God is natural. What Jesus says on the night before he
dies is that it is not we who need to travel to God but God who, through the events that are
about to unfold in Jerusalem, will come to us. ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to
you.’We seek, yes, but the spirit seeks us in return too. We are Easter people who live in the
extraordinary period between the resurrection and the culmination of the kingdom of God.
Into this is where the words of Jesus spoken in John’s gospel today comes. We are
perpetually reminded ‘You are not alone.’ To be Easter people is to be people who know that
although we go down into the waters of death, we come back out again, and as our heads
break the surface and our eyes see the glory of the kingdom of God, we do so accompanied
by the Christ who is no longer an unknown God but is the parent of children – children who
find that they are no longer orphaned because God has come to us.
Rev Hannah