My dearest family, don't go getting confounded when things start heating up for you and you have to undergo severe testing, as if this were something you never expected. Instead, rejoice in the sufferings of Christ, so that when His full status is finally unveiled, you too may rejoice even more fully than you do now.
A blessing rests on you if you be vilified in the name of Christ. Blessed you are because the status of God's own Spirit has alighted upon you.
Let it not be that any of you suffer [punishment] as a murderer, or as a thief, or as a criminal, or [even] as a spy.
But, if any should suffer as one of Christ's own, then understand this: there is certainly no shame in that, and instead it is by this same name [by which you have been abused] that you [are called to] enhance the status of God!
At times in the New Testament account of Peter's conduct, we get the impression that he was someone who might take a while to see a joke. He is presented to us as a pretty rough 'n ready kind of fellow, somewhat unrefined and not very subtle. But here, I think, we confront evidence that, from his contact with Jesus, Peter had developed a keen and subtle sense. We might say that he had been put on a steep learning-curve.
Consider just what we read here. This is the man who, a few years earlier, when told by his Rabbi that he would fail at a moment of danger, had denied the possibility outright in a manner that sounds to us, in our retrospect, as full of bluster. And then he had indeed failed and denied His Master, even removing emotional support from Jesus, when His Master stood alone, isolated, abandoned.
Once again, I am suggesting that what we read here is an open acknowledgment by Peter of his own, all too well-known, failure; his own tendency to get flabbergasted when the heat was on - when a mere girl, a doorkeeper, a house-servant serving in the high priest's house had confounded him (Matt 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:25-27).
And so, I am suggesting that, in a certain respect, Peter is actually telling us of the blessing that would have been upon his head if he had not been confounded, had he 'fessed, straight up, and admitted.
Yes, indeed, I am one of Jesus hand-picked students in His school.
But he hadn't. And yet now he has clearly left behind and turned his back on whatever pertained to his former life to instead proclaim the good news for all those who suffer because of their alliance with Christ Jesus. Actually he is simply reiterating what His master had taught.
A blessing rests on those who suffer persecution in defence of the right; the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
A blessing rests on you when they vilify you, when they persecute you, when they speak evil of you in every way, when they tell lies against you, and all on my account. Be glad, be full of joy. It is a rich reward that awaits you in heaven. And indeed, in just the same way they made the prophets before you suffer persecution.
(adapted from Matthew 5:10-12 Heinz Cassirer God's New Covenant).
The guarantee holds. There is no shame in sharing in the vilification of Christ Jesus. In that event, His promises assure us that He has shared in the suffering of those vilified. It is from His suffering that the task of contributing to God's own work of enhancing His creational purpose has been passed on to us.