Strength Displayed Through Suffering

1 Peter 2:20-25

.. 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.

Never was a man more worshipful than Jesus Christ.

He was passionately interested in communing with the Father and Spirit. He walked in accordance with this Father’s will. He prayed without ceasing. He was thoroughly righteous in both his internal affections and outward actions. Jesus was pure, holy, and blameless — the only man who earned his sainthood status.

Never was a man more loving than Jesus.

Whether one was Jewish or Greek, male or female, moral or immoral, likable or irritating, friend or enemy, Jesus graced them with love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.

Never was a man more humble than Jesus.

Though being the Creator, he humbled himself and suffered the effects of his cursed and fallen creation.

As God who custom-made man in his image, he humbled himself and suffered the effects of cursed humanness.

Then, as the King of Kings, he humbled himself and suffered the effects of fallen ecclesiastical and political governors. Great was the misery endured by Christ from his teachers, elders, governors, kings, and emperors.

Why did he do so?

As already stated, he humbled himself and suffered for the purpose of worship. He would obey the Father, honor authority, and suffer because it brought glory to God.

He humbled himself and suffered for the purpose of witness. Those watching realized there was something different about him. He did his good deeds that people would notice and glorify his Father in heaven.

He humbled himself and suffered for the sake of wisdom. God was the one who “dreamed up” government and declared it to be useful. He also was the one who appointed the best and worst of men to serve as his leaders. Therefore, Jesus knew order was better than anarchy.

He humbled himself and suffered for the sake of work. He came to earth in order to obey and be sacrificed. Even the bad about him was working out for God’s glory, his good, and the good of his elect. As he suffered he:

  • Committed no sin
  • Deceived not in his communication
  • Refused to revile in return
  • Did not threaten
  • Faithfully entrusted himself to his God — the Just Judge

Through his suffering he:

  • Was gracious to us
  • Bore our sins in his body on the cross
  • Killed sin in us
  • Raised us to live in righteousness
  • Healed us by his wounds
  • Rescued and returned us to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls

His suffering was unjust. His suffering was unpleasant; it was brutal. However, his suffering was God’s appointed way to justify those who would believe.

Then, specifically, in this text, Jesus humbled himself and suffered for the sake of example. Those who would become identified as lovers of God and man, those who would learn to walk humbly as did their Teacher, those who would find within them sanctified desires to worship well, witness consistently, walk in wisdom, and work the plan, they would look to Jesus and find their leader. Then they would begin following after his example — in his steps.

So, how are we going to suffer this week?

We can be forced to suffer. Many wish we can get out from under it. We study, plot, scheme, and make changes; we do everything we can to remove ourselves from our unjust or heartbreaking situations. All of us are tempted to compromise, disobey, and trust in idols as we take matters into our own hands. However, despite our creativity and commitment to abstain from or remove suffering from our lives, we find ourselves unsuccessful. Consequently, this results in our gritting our teeth, grumbling, complaining, cursing, growing in bitterness, growing in hatred, and getting vindictive.

Or …

We can be so moved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we pray for more Christlike thoughts, desires, words, and deeds as we go towards and through our seasons of suffering. We can pray that Christ’s Spirit might enable us to:

  • Commit less sins in our suffering
  • Refuse to revile in return
  • Refuse to threaten
  • Be honest in our communication
  • Witness to those who are watching us hurt
  • Practice the biblical wisdom of God
  • And most importantly … entrust ourselves to God who loved us, loves us, and will never cease.

Peter heard Jesus say, “If you want to be my disciple, come, follow me, pick up your cross, die to self, and live.” He was horribly unsuccessful at first. However, Christ did great work in his man. Towards the end of his life, he wrote this instruction. At the end of his life, he was found faithful.

Well friends, the same Spirit that worked in Christ, worked in Peter and works in us. Therefore, let’s not look at our suffering as pitiful victims. Let’s trust our God, walk forward, suffer, and die in the strength of Christ’s Spirit. To suffer such, “we have been called.”

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