This is my favorite Easter verse. I’ve preached many Easter sermons based on this one verse. You will agree! It’s the perfect verse to capture the true meaning of Easter for each of us. 1 Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The resurrection of the dead gives us all a “living hope” for the cure of living in an alien world. We know we aren’t where we are supposed to be. It’s in the blood of a born-again believer, the “elect” of God. Peter writes his first epistle to those scattered abroad who know they are aliens in the world. Helm explains, “For everyone unfamiliar with Old Testament history, the ‘elect exiles of the dispersion’ were by nature a scattered and conflicted people. As God’s elect, they wrestled with what it meant to be the object of his affections, yet seemingly abandoned to out-of-the-way places. As exiles, they struggled with questions of cultural engagement—of what it meant to conduct themselves as God’s people living under an ungodly rule.”[1] Peter is addressing the alienation of the believer in the world in which he has to live. This is the worst kind of homesickness!

I remember my first year in the Navy aboard the USS WRIGHT, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia. It was far from my home in Omaha, Nebraska. But the Navy first sent me to Treasure Island near San Francisco, California. I was there for a month before getting ultimate duty orders to the ship in Norfolk. I went from one coast to the other. Flying over Nebraska on my way from California to Virginia, I had this overwhelming sense that I might not ever see my home again. The Navy doesn’t treat its recruits well. It’s all “shut up and sit down,” “swab the deck,” or “scrape the paint.” In my case, it was washing the dishes aboard the ship of 2000 men three times a day! I was assigned to the scullery on the Wright. I hadn’t been there a month, and I knew my life was over. I’d never see home again, and there wasn’t anything I wanted more! The parental discipline I received at home was kind and loving, even when it was stern, but not so in the Navy. I just wanted to go home. But that was out of the question, and I had lost all hope of rescue from my plight and just plodded on day after day, washing dishes and getting up early, and going to bed early. The only thing to look forward to was the scullery and the many long hours of washing dishes. I had no hope of anything better for three months. Then a man from the personnel office came down and asked if anyone could type. I couldn’t raise my hand fast enough! I was the only boy in my junior year typing class at Holy Name High School. He interviewed me and promised to consider my reassignment to the personnel office of the ship. All of a sudden, there was hope. The scullery wasn’t so bad anymore. I lived the next week with a “living hope.”  I did my work with a whole new attitude.

Hope does a marvelous thing.  We have been born again to a “Living” hope. The ship’s office, however, didn’t satisfy my craving for home. I was glad for the change of environment, but I still missed the familiar streets, the creaks in the stairs going up to my bedroom, the familiar street signs, the big oak tree in my front yard, and, of course, the people that I loved and that loved me. Tozer told about American soldiers in World War I. He said, “they say that American soldiers are the most homesick boys of all the soldiers known any place. All other soldiers manage somehow to toughen up and take it, but they say Americans are just homesick to the point where they do not care. I was in the First World War, that is, I was in the service, but I never got into combat. After it was over and we knew we were going home but did not know when, one of the fellows working there with me used to sing ‘Home, Sweet Home.’ I thought it was a joke, but it was not—the fellow was so homesick he did not care if they laughed at him. He sang ‘Home, Sweet Home’ off key until he was released.”[2] Arno C. Gaebelein referred to his longing for Jesus’ second coming as “the homesickness of the new life.” Someone else put it this way, “Blessed are the homesick, for they shall be called home.”

[1] Helm, David R. 2008. 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christ’s Sufferings. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] Tozer, A. W., and Lyle W. Dorsett. 1998. Tozer Speaks to Students : Chapel Messages Preached at Wheaton College. Camp Hill, PA.: WingSpread.