I often write out my thoughts before I teach on a passage. The greater context is 1 Peter 1:17-21, but here I’ve written my thoughts on verse 20, which says “He was foreknown before the foundations of the world.”
He refers to Christ, the unblemished Lamb of God. Even before he condescended into human history in the form of an infant, Christ had a plan to die a bloody death.
There are two books in the Bible that start with the words “In the beginning.” Genesis and John—and they are both speaking of the foundations of the world. Genesis starts, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” And John starts, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
I want to take these two passages and look at them together. They are both talking about the same time period (the beginning), and they both have different perspectives. Obviously Moses is writing before the incarnation and John is writing after.
John says, “In the beginning was the Word.” In the Genesis account, after the first verse that gives the summary description of the creation event, Moses gets into more details as to how God created the universe. We read that the earth was “formless and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” The picture is ominous—formless, void, darkness—all words they bring negative feelings. And then, to change all that, God speaks. A command proceeds from the mouth of God. Words go flying through the void. And the power of those words causes a universe.
The first words were like this: “Let there be light.” And there was light. God’s creative act was one that involved speaking words—and his word caused the universe to exist.
Now back to John. John says, “In the beginning was the Word.” I take that to mean the word of command, the creative act of God. The “Let there be” is the Word of God. The Word that is bringing things into existence throughout Genesis 1 is the same Word spoken of in John 1. And as John says, it is both with God and it is God. Then, as John describes, that same creating Word, in verse 14, becomes flesh and dwells among us. In short, the Word that created the universe is none other than Jesus Christ himself. Hebrews 1:2 makes it perfectly clear, “he appointed [his Son] the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” and verse 3, “He upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Jesus does that.
Peter is telling his audience that the plan of Christ was foreknown before the foundations of the world. Before mankind existed it was determined that Christ would be the Savior of mankind. Before Adam and Even were labeled sinner, it was ordained that Christ be sent to earth to die for sinners. Before there was ever such a thing as murder, Christ determined to be murdered.
When Christ scooped down into the dust and formed a lifeless man, he looked ahead to the day when he would clothe himself in flesh, walk among men, and be betrayed and denied by them. When God created a beautiful garden he knew that it would be a garden where he would sweat drops of blood in anticipation of his coming crucifixion. As Christ formed hills he knew he would ascend one with a cross on his scourged back. Christ created trees knowing that he would be nailed to one. As Christ created the elements of iron and steel, he knew that spikes would be driven through his weary hands. When the words came forth “Let there be light,” Christ knew that darkness would envelop him in death.
When the angry mob surrounded the tired, trembling Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, they did not know that they were arresting the Creator of the universe.
It’s no wonder that they fell back when Jesus said, “I am he.”