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1 Peter 2:18-25 is one of those remarkable passages in God’s Word that interweaves deep and profound theological truth with practical, life-shaping guidelines for how to conduct ourselves as Christians in a world that doesn’t know Jesus. Continue reading . . .

1 Peter 2:18-25 is one of those remarkable passages in God’s Word that interweaves deep and profound theological truth with practical, life-shaping guidelines for how to conduct ourselves as Christians in a world that doesn’t know Jesus. Peter writes:

“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:18-25).

There are people in the professing church who scoff at the idea that understanding the nature of Christ’s atoning death and all that he endured on behalf of sinners could be helpful in how we live our lives and especially how we respond to and interrelate with people who mistreat us. The Apostle Peter, on the other hand, wouldn’t even begin to give us counsel or advice on how to deal with persecution and suffering in our lives without relating it to the suffering Jesus endured in his.

Did you not see in this text how Peter appeals to the experience of Jesus himself as he instructs his readers to bear up under pressure and slander and unjust suffering? Did you not see how Peter repeatedly grounds his exhortations and encouragement to you and me in the very nature of what Jesus endured as he bore our sins in his body on the tree? Did you not see how Peter points to the example of Jesus in how he responded to unjust suffering in order to instruct us how we are to respond?

Peter’s message can be summed up in five statements.

(1) Jesus never sinned in deed or speech (see Luke 4:34; John 6:69; 8:46; 9:16; Acts 3:14; 4:27-30; Rom. 8:3; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 1 Peter 1:19; 2:22; 3:18; 1 John 3:5).

(2) Jesus never reviled those who mocked and reviled him.

(3) Jesus never threatened those who inflicted his sufferings but always trusted God.

(4) In the midst of indescribable anguish and horrific mistreatment at the hands of men, Jesus put his trust in God.

(5) Far more than the suffering he endured from people is the fact that he bore the wrath of God that was due unto our sins on the cross. Indeed, it was by means of the very wounds that he experienced, wounds that were inflicted more so by God the Father than by any human being, that we receive our healing and are restored.

Points 4 and 5 especially capture my attention. All the while he suffered he “continued entrusting himself” to God (1 Pt. 2:23). The word “himself” is not in the Greek text. Thus, Peter’s point is that “he handed over to God the whole situation including himself and those abusing him and the hurt done and all the factors that made it a horrendous outrage of injustice that the most innocent man who ever lived should suffer so much. He trusted it all into God's hands as the one who would settle the matter justly someday” (Piper).

But what exceeded the abuse and mockery and reviling and suffering at the hands of cruel sinners was the enduring of the Father’s wrath against sin on our behalf! As Peter put it, “he bore our sins in his body on the tree!”

This is a standard way of saying, “He bore the wrath of God that was required because of our sins and he did it by being nailed to a tree, a cross, where he satisfied the demands of divine justice and endured the eternal penalty that our sin merited.” Anything less than this, anything other than the clear biblical concept of penal substitutionary atonement, and we forfeit the gospel.

What is the gospel? What is the good news for you and me today? It is that the God-man, Christ Jesus, willingly yielded up his life to be tormented and abused and wounded and beaten and nailed to a cross where he fulfilled every requirement of divine righteousness, where he satisfied the wrath of God that you and I deserved, by being made the object of that judgment. In this way he dealt with our sins. And God raised him from the dead and now declares that everyone everywhere must repent and trust wholly and exclusively in what Christ has accomplished.

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I never tire of hearing this truth!

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