The Suffering of the Saints and the Suffering of Christ
1 Peter 2:1-25
In practicing separation, which is living for the Lord, there is the danger of adopting extreme viewpoints and both are very much out of line with Scripture.
One of them is thinking that human nature is such that all it needs is merely new direction, it needs to be given a purpose and a little reformation. The people who take this position believe that since there is nothing wrong with human nature, they need only to awaken the individual to his marvelous energy and intellect and moral nature so that he will be able to live for the Lord. That is one view of what it means to live the Christian life.
The second extreme viewpoint is that when one is born again, he receives something that is supernatural (which he does receive), but then he merely sits on the sidelines while God accomplishes in his life all that needs to be done. people in this class become very pious. To me they are like a puffed up frog. They never seem to grow and develop into loving, full-obedient, normal Christians.
Now this second chapter will make it very clear that through the New Birth (born again of incorruptible seed, the Word of God), have a new nature, and we are to live in that new nature by the power of the Holy Spirit. We have been brought into a loving relationship with the one whom, having not seen, we love. Simon Peter saw Him and loved Him, and although you and I have not seen Him, the Holy Spirit can make Him real to us so that we love Him in that way also.
When you were first born again, do you remember how sweet and wonderful it was? Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2). The Corinthian Christians had become very carnal. Their first love, that honeymoon love for Christ, was gone. God spoke of this same thing to His people Israel just before they went into the Babylonian captivity: “… Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown” (Jer. 2:2). The children of Israel demonstrated that love when they first came out of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea. They sang a song of praises to Jehovah: “… I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea” (Exod. 15:1). Yet it wasn’t too long before they became complainers before God. God remembers that.
Today real separation rests upon the fact that you have been born again, you now have a new nature, and you are now in love with Christ. Your love for Him makes you want to please Him.
The great object in the purposes of God is to have people saved, not only from judgment and the lake of fire, but saved from the present world. He wants them saved, not only for heaven by and by, but for the heart of Christ now. The work of Christ on the cross settled every question that sin has raised between God and our souls. The future is bright with the glory of God, and we have been brought into the value of that work of redemption. We have been born again, and no one—not even Satan—can change that.
However, how are we doing today in our Christian lives down here on the earth? How is our relationship with our fellow men and with the Lord Jesus Christ? "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.' (1 Pet. 2:1–2).
You see, we cannot expect God to do everything for us; He has certain things for us to do for ourselves. First, there are certain things that we are to lay aside. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians believers, likens it to the taking off of a garment: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts…. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another” (Eph. 4:22, 25).
Paul uses a different figure to describe this to the Corinthians. “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:7–8).
When the Israelite observed the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, he didn’t eat leavened bread; that is, he didn’t go on living the same kind of life he had lived before. He was feeding in a different place on a different kind of bread. And it was a means of growth for him. Likewise, Paul is saying to the Corinthian believers that when they come to Christ, they are to get rid of the old leaven, which is symbolic of malice and wickedness in their lives. You see, we will never become perfect in this life, because we will always have that old nature.
“Laying aside all malice.” What is malice? The best definition is congealed anger. It means to have an unforgiving spirit. Question? Are you carrying bitterness in your heart and a chip on your shoulder? Although you witness about being born again and about loving Jesus, nobody around you will be able to distinguish that if you are carrying malice, congealed anger, in your heart.
“And all guile.” Guile is using cleverness to get even or to try to make a good impression upon someone. Ananias and Sapphira used guile when they tried to represent themselves as being very generous givers to the churChapter That old nature which you and I have is good at that sort of thing. J. B. Lightfoot calls it “the vicious nature which is bent on doing harm to others.”
“And hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings.” Hypocrisy is, of course, attempting to be what you are not. And evil speaking means slander.
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word.” Instead of “sincere” milk, I translate it pure milk or spiritual milk. Just as a hungry baby reaches for the bottle, a believer is to desire the Word of God.
ILLUS: A pastor tells the story of when his little grandson was born. Because his father was over in Turkey at the time, his mother came to stay with her parents . They had him with us those first few months, and every now and then it was their task to give him his bottle. The pastor explained, that little fellow went into high gear when he saw that bottle of milk. He started moving his hands, his mouth, his feet—he was reaching out for it with every part of his body. The pastor says the thought came to his mind, I wish I had a congregation that would reach out after the Word of God like that! I wish I had a congregation that was so hungry for the Word of God.
With thout a hunger for the Word of God you will not grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. You will not develop as a Christian—you will always be in your babyhood. We must remember that a little baby and a full-grown man are both human beings, but they are in different stages of growth and development. The little one needs milk so he can grow up to become a man. Now, how does a Christian grow? He grows by studying the Word of God. There is no growth apart from the Word of God.
A pastor said about his church. “I spend my time burping spiritual babies!” Those babies should grow up so they wouldn’t need a pastor to pat them and burp them all the time. And they would grow if they desired the pure milk of the Word.
It is my conviction that the “pure milk of the word” means the total Word of God. We don’t grow spiritually by lifting out a verse for comfort here and there. We need the total Word of God to grow. We need a full, well-balanced diet. Of course, we start out with milk, but the day comes when we want a good steak, a good baked potato, a green salad, and maybe some black-eyed peas on the side. And you get all the spiritual nutrition you need in the total Word of God.
"If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious" (1 Pet. 2:3).
“If so be” means “since”—since ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. You see, at the moment of salvation, a child is born with an appetite for the Word of God, just as a newborn infant immediately starts to eat. When a a child comes from home from the hospital at only two or three days old, all we have to do was stick a nipple in his mouth. It knows what to do. He does not need a lecture on how to drink milk; he seemed to know all about it
What, then, is real separation? Real separation (we need to note this carefully) is a separation from the works of the flesh. Too many Christians feel that they must be separated from the world. No, we are in the world, and we must live in the world even though we are not of the world.
Malice, hypocrisy, envy, evil speaking—these are the things from which we should be separated. Only the Spirit of God working within us will produce that kind of separation. And until you and I are willing to give up malice, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speaking, we will never grow to Christian maturity.
"To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious." (1 Pet. 2:4).
“To whom coming, as unto a living stone.” We don’t come to a little Babe in Bethlehem; we come as little babes to a living stone. The living stone is Christ. After the confession of Simon Peter, the Lord Jesus said, “… upon this rock I will build my church …” (Matt. 16:18). Simon Peter makes it very clear here that the living stone is not himself but that the living stone is Jesus Christ.
Jesus again refers to Himself as a stone in Matthew 21:42, 44: “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?” This is a quotation from Psalm 118. Now, speaking of Himself He says, “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”
Christ Jesus is that foundation stone of the church He is that stone today. Paul writes, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). When you come as a sinner and fall on that stone, you are broken. However, in your brokenness that stone becomes a foundation for you, and that is your salvation. However, if you reject that stone, you are not through with the stone. Daniel, in his vision, saw a “stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet” (see Dan. 2:34). That is the stone of judgment which will come to smite the earth. This stone symbolizes Christ. He also will be the stone of judgment to this earth. What a picture of the Lord Jesus is given to us here!
Here is something else that is wonderful—
"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5).
“Ye also, as lively stones.” Lively is an old English word for living. “Ye also, as living stones.” How are we living stones? We have been “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (v. 23, italics mine).
“Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house.” You will recall that after Peter’s confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” the Lord Jesus said to him, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” (see Matt. 16:16, 18). The name Peter means “rock,” and the Lord Jesus was saying to him in effect, “You are going to be a little stone, a pebble, but on this foundation stone (Christ) I am going to build My churChapter ” The Lord Jesus is the foundation stone, and we know that Peter understood it that way, because he said, “Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house.” Just as Simon Peter was one of the little stones, you are one of the little stones and I am one of the little stones which are built into this spiritual house. When we are born again, become children of God, we are put into this building of God.
If we turn back to the Epistle to the Ephesians, we will find that Paul also uses this illustration of a building. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19–22). Today God is building a temple, a living temple. Those of us who come to Him as the sinners we are, who fall upon Him, cast ourselves upon Him for mercy, are saved. And He makes us a part of the living temple He is building upon the foundation stone, which is Christ Himself.
“An holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Another picture which this epistle gives to us is that of a holy priesthood. All believers are living stones. All believers are priests. We are a holy priesthood, and later Peter calls it a royal priesthood. As priests we are to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God in Jesus Christ. Praise to God is such a spiritual sacrifice. Your monetary offering to the Lord is such a spiritual sacrifice. I don’t know why people think that money cannot be spiritual. It all depends on the way money is used. And then, you can offer yourself to God. That is a spiritual sacrifice.
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not he confounded (1 Pet. 2:6).
This is a quotation from Isaiah 28:6: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” This stone is symbolic of Christ. Scripture makes this fact very clear.
'Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto you them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner" (1 Pet. 2:7). “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” For you who believe there is the preciousness of Christ. I think it is so interesting that Simon Peter, the big, rugged fisherman, uses the word precious. We think of it as a word used in the vocabulary of women, but whenever Peter speaks of Christ or of His blood or any part about Him, he uses the word precious. “But unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed (rejected), the same is made the head of the corner.” (V7)
"And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed (1 Pet. 2:8).
This is a very important passage of Scripture. You will recall that it is a quotation from Psalm 118:22. There is a tradition that takes us back to the time of the building of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. In 1 Kings 6:7 we read this about the actual construction of the temple: “And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.” The stones, you see, were hewn to exact measurement in the quarry; and when they reached the building site, there was no sound of a hammer—they were just fitted into place. Well, Jewish tradition is that at the beginning of the project a very large, fine-looking stone came up from the quarry, but the builders couldn’t fit it in any place; so they moved it to one side. Because it was in the way, eventually they just pushed it over the brow of the hill to make room for the other stones that they were receiving and forgot about it. Finally, when all the stones had been fitted into place, they sent down word to the quarry, “Send up the cornerstone.” The building was finished except for the cornerstone. Word came back, “We sent the cornerstone to you at the very beginning.” Then they remembered, “That’s the stone we pushed off the hill!” So with a great deal of effort, they had to haul that stone back to the top of the hill, and they found that it did fit right into place. If this tradition is accurate, it certainly explains the verses before us.
The stone, which the builders rejected, has become the head of the corner. The stone is, of course, a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. When He came into the world He was rejected by His own people—“He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). Not only then was He rejected, but you and I live today in a Christ-rejecting world. At the time this is being written, we are in the Christmas season. I don’t know about your town, but in my town Christmas is being celebrated, but Jesus Christ is being rejected. About the most hypocritical thing in the world is to reject the one whose birthday you are celebrating! the Lord Jesus Christ is to you today either a stepping stone or a stumbling stone.
This brings us to a very wonderful passage of Scripture which reveals that a Christian’s life is to be commensurate with his position in Christ. And until we live that life, we are not experiencing normal Christian living. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Pet. 2:9).
Peter is saying several very wonderful things about us here. We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people of His own—not a “peculiar people.” God’s people are not supposed to be oddballs or crackpots or ready for the funny farm. Some people seem to think that is what “peculiar” means. It is more meaningful to use the translation: a people of His own.
Many vain attempts are being made in our day to identify certain people of this earth with the ten “lost” tribes of Israel. They are said to be the gypsies, the Mormons, the Adventists, or the British-Israel group—which is probably the most vocal. Well, if they could prove that England and America were settled by the ten “lost” tribes of Israel, what have they proven? God has set aside the nation Israel temporarily, and today God is doing a new thing. He is calling out an elect race, a chosen generation, from every tongue and nation and people—both Jew and Gentile—and they are brought into a new relationship to God in the churChapter
Although you and I say that we have come to Christ, He says that He has chosen us. I like that. It reminds me of the story of two little children from the slums of New York who got to Macy’s department store and were looking in the window at the merchandise on display. They saw things which they could never have, but they played a game with each other.
You and I are just like poverty-stricken little urchins in this world, but when we say, “I choose Jesus,” we find that He has already chosen us. How wonderful that is! The Lord Jesus said of His own apostles, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you …” (John 15:16). It is wonderful to know this. I am not being irreverent when I say that, since He has chosen me, He is responsible for me. The responsibility is His because I belong to Him. How wonderful it is that He has chosen us!
2. We are “a royal priesthood.” Back in the Old Testament God first of all chose the entire nation of Israel to be His priests. (I believe that in the Millennium the whole nation of Israel will be priests here on this earth.) However, they sinned, and so God chose one tribe out of that nation. The priests came from this one tribe. Today there is no priesthood on earth which God recognizes—except one. Today every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is a priest. Since we belong to Christ, we can come into His presence, into the very holy of holies. Simon Peter tells us here that we as believers are members of a royal priesthood. We are children of the King. A little later on in this epistle we will read that the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and that He hears their prayers. Oh, how wonderful this is!
3. We are “an holy nation.” The nation Israel was never holy in conduct, and the same can be said of the churChapter Israel’s failure is glaring; the church’s failure is appalling. Yet we are holy in our relationship with Him because Christ is our righteousness. If you have any standing before God, it is not in yourself; it is in Christ. I can’t think of anything more wonderful than that today I stand complete in Him. What a joy it is to be a member of a holy nation, which is a new nation in the world today.
4. We are “a peculiar people”—a people of His own. We are a people for acquisition, a people for God’s own. possession. We belong to Him. Therefore, there is in the world not only a new nation but also a people that belong to Him. I don’t know why some Christians are afraid of this concept. It doesn’t mean that we are to be peculiar in conduct and act strangely but that we belong to Him. We are His very own people. We can compare it to a boy who goes out and gets a job and makes his own money for the first time. His dad has been giving him an allowance, but now the money belongs to him. It is something that he worked for, and it is his very own. Well, Christ’s work, His work of redemption, required the shedding of His blood, as we have seen in this epistle, and now He has a people for His very own.
In the high priestly prayer of the Lord Jesus, He says, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me …” (John 17:6). Also He said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). How wonderful it is that the Father has given us to Christ!
And God calls His own. He calls you today, my friend. It doesn’t matter who you are or to which race you belong. Jesus Christ is calling to you to be His own. He wants you to join a chosen generation and a royal priesthood. He is not inviting you to wear robes or to recite rituals but to join a priesthood that has access to God. He is asking you to belong to a new nation. He does not mean Germany or England or Japan or even the United States. He asks you to belong to that great company of believers out of every nation. “… happy is that people, whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 144:15). “So we (are) thy people and sheep of thy pasture …” (Ps. 79:13). Through the prophet Isaiah God says, “… for the transgression of my people was he stricken” (Isa. 53:8). And in the New Testament, “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate” (Heb. 13:12). Oh, what a wonderful position we have in Christ!
"Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy" (1 Pet. 2:10). “Which in time past were not a people.” We didn’t belong to God but were far from Him. “Which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” there is one gift that you won’t want to miss, and the name written on the box is “mercy.” It is a big box because God is rich in mercy. If you need any today, you can go to Him for it. Again, remember that Peter is writing specifically to the Diaspora , his people who were scattered abroad. “Which in time past were not a people”—they had rejected Christ as their Messiah and God had rejected them. “But are now the people of God.” God was (and is) doing a new thing in calling out a people and extending His mercy to them.
"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul (1 Pet. 2:11).
The child of God is to publish His praises. In what way? By singing hymns? Well, it is all right to do it that way, but you can better show forth His praises by not manifesting the works of the flesh. Earlier Peter has told us that the works of the flesh are malice, guile, hypocrisies, envies, and slander. We publish His praises by displaying our attitudes which have been shaped by the Word of God.
"Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1 Pet. 2:12).
“Having your conversation (behavior) honest among the Gentiles.” You see that true Christian separation is not some pious position that is to be assumed. It is not simply refraining from doing worldly things. It is very positive action. It includes honesty and good works. All believers in any kind of business dealing show forth the praises of God by their honesty. That is a witness to the world.
"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well" (1 Pet. 2:13–14).
Nero was just coming to the throne in Rome as the new emperor. The Roman Empire boasted itself that it gave justice to man. However, it was like every other government, including our own. The poor man has never had a fair chance. The rich man has always been able to buy lawyers who were smart enough to evade the law. The poor man is the one who has the problems with the law.
Then what should be the believer’s relationship to the law? He is to obey the law. That is what Peter is saying here—“submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” Since they were under Roman law, they were to obey it. Although Rome intended that their laws should be just, they were not. Remember that Roman law crucified Christ and persecuted the early Christians; yet Rome boasted loudly about justice. It sounds like modern America where religion—that is, the preaching of the Word of God—is very politely being suppressed. Are we to rebel against the government? No. We are to obey the laws of the land.
"For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" (1 Pet. 2:15).
When the Christian submits to government and to those who are in authority over his life, he is again revealing the praises of God through his life. I have never accepted joyfully a traffic ticket, but I pay my fine and try to be more careful to obey the laws. We are to be obedient to the law because we are giving a testimony.
"As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God" (1 Pet. 2:16).
The relationship of the believer to other people is a testimony which speaks louder than the message from the pulpit. You see, the believer in Christ has a liberty which the man outside of Christ does not have. Believers have a marvelous liberty in Christ Jesus. I personally believe that I could go places and see things which the average Christian could not. Although I don’t think I would be hurt by them, I avoid them because of my testimony. I don’t want to use my liberty as a cloak of maliciousness; that is, I don’t want my weaker brother to be hurt by what I do. We must remember that although we are free, we are the servants of God.
"Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king" (1 Pet. 2:17).
“Honour all men.” A Christian should respect other human beings. He doesn’t say to love all men—believe me, some of them are very unlovely! “Love the brotherhood.” While we respect all men, we are to love the brotherhood, meaning other believers.
“Fear God.” Certainly we as believers are to reveal by our lives that we are God-fearing people. “Honour the king.” We owe an honor to the office of the man who rules over us. I have never voted for a president whom I really wanted. I have always voted against the other candidate. I have never known a president who I felt was really capable. However, regardless of who is president and regardless of his inability, he should be honored because of his office. I am not impressed by some Scripture-spouting, pious individuals who attack the president of the United States. The office is to be honored.
"Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward" (1 Pet. 2:18).
“Servants, be subject to your masters.” In our contemporary culture we would say, “Employees, be subject to your bosses.” Many people tell me how wonderful it is to work for a Christian boss. But what if you are working for a godless fellow?
“Not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward (perverse or unreasonable).” You are to be subject to him also, as long as he is not asking you to do that which is illegitimate or dishonest.
“Be subject” has in it the idea of freedom of choice. It is subjecting yourself, something you do voluntarily—not because you feel that your boss is a great person but because of your testimony for Christ. Christians also reveal the praise of God by their attitudes and actions in labor relationships.
"For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God" (1 Pet. 2:19–20).
“For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?” “Glory” could be translated “fame or praise.” Buffeted means “to be struck with the fists.” This was often the treatment of slaves in Peter’s day. If a slave would steal or lie or become rebellious and refuse to work, his master might take him and give him a real going over with his fists. Peter is saying that if you have been beaten for any such fault, and you take it patiently, you have nothing to brag about. The beating was your own fault. God is not going to commend you for your patience in a case like that.
It may be possible that you are having problems and difficulties because you played the fool. A businessman who played the stock market admitted, “I have played the fool!” He had played the stock market and lost all his capital. He went bankrupt. When I was talking to him, he was suffering for his own foolishness. To recognize his fault and take the subsequent suffering patiently did not commend him to God.
“But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” Of course, the natural reaction in all of us is to strike back when we have been unjustly treated. I confess that this is my first reaction, but I am learning to let God take care of it. God says in Romans 12:19, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” and He does a much better job of it than I could. The Lord Jesus Himself said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven …” (Matt. 5:11–12). And Peter says, “This is acceptable with God.”
Peter doesn’t get very far without telling us about the Lord Jesus again, and here he reminds us of the sufferings of Christ, which are an example to us as believers. "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (1 Pet. 2:21–22).
When our Lord Jesus Christ was here on earth, He suffered two kinds of suffering: He suffered as a human being down here when He became a man, suffering for righteousness’ sake. Also, He suffered for the sins of the world.
Now, His suffering for the sins of the world is not an example for us—it is our redemption. It is something we believe and accept, but we can by no means imitate it. However, in His life down here He did leave us an example. In Nazareth during His first thirty years He suffered ridicule and misunderstanding, as Psalm 69 makes clear. Then, when He moved out in a public ministry, the gospel records tell us how He suffered for righteousness’ sake. When you and I suffer for our faith, we remember the example He left for us in that connection.
"Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously" (1 Pet. 2:23).
He let His Father settle the account. Again let me remind you of Romans 12:19: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the, Lord.” Let’s allow God to handle those accounts for us also. And He will handle them, by the way.
Jesus is suffering for the sins of the world in the next verse—
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Pet. 2:24).
This is not an example that is set for us. You and I cannot suffer to wash away our own sins, much less suffer for the sins of the world. Peter is talking here about redemption. “That we being dead to sins”—that was our condition.
“By whose stripes ye were healed.” Healed of what? I notice that when so-called faith healers use the words, “by whose stripes ye were healed,” they refer to Isaiah 53:5 rather than to this verse in 1 Peter, because Peter makes it evident that the healing is of sins. I certainly agree that the Lord Jesus came to be the Great Healer—but the Great Healer heals of sins. No human physician can handle that problem. And Peter’s use of these words from Isaiah 53:5 reveals that the prophet Isaiah was not speaking primarily of physical healing but of that which is more important and more profound, healing from sin.
"For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" (1 Pet. 2:25).
Humanity, both lost and saved, are called sheep. “Ye were as sheep going astray.” This, too, is a quotation from Isaiah 53: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).
As you can see, the suffering of Christ is actually the theme of the last part of this chapter. Christ suffered to set us an example, and He suffered a vicarious, substitutionary death for our sins. “But are now returned (the same word is often translated converted) unto the Shepherd and Bishop (overseer) of your souls.”
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