Christ's Suffering Example (1 Peter 2)
- Order of Service: Divine Service 1
- Hymns: LSB #475, 709, 466, 711, 633, 550
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. (1 Peter 2:21)
Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)
Lutherans find several things prickly in St. Peter's epistles. They would rather go back to St. Paul and his focus on justification. St. Peter's emphasis on sanctification doesn't sit right with Lutherans. It sounds too Baptist, but the Baptists get it straight from the Bible. Jesus calls us to do good works. He created us for good works. To show how these good works happen, Jesus gave us an example. Lutherans don't like that word. No lifting it out of context. The very context shows the suffering example Christ gives for Christians.
Of course, the example Christ gives us starts with the impossible. “He committed no sin.” You and I will never be sinless. Stop trying now. The goal of the Christian life isn't to become sinless. It's to be forgiven. Jesus took care of all your sins. That's not license to go out and do whatever you want. It's the assurance that Heaven is yours. A promise He has given you in the waters of Baptism. The bread and wine of Holy Communion. The words of Holy Absolution.
And you can trust this promise because “neither was deceit found in His mouth.” Jesus has never told one false statement. Every promise He has given throughout all the Scriptures is still very true. That's why two thousand years after His birth, we still devote ourselves to His Word through His prophets and Apostles. Even though the human authors have been dead for centuries, we still study the Scriptures so that we can prove whether the things we hear about “Christianity” and “Christ” are true or not.
When the Sanhedrin got together to condemn Jesus to death, they convinced themselves that something existed that really didn't. They didn't go to the Scriptures to see whether Jesus spoke the truth or not. They relied on their own “traditions of the elders.” A loose, human-centered commentary on the Old Testament Scriptures that resembles God's Word about as much as what passes for sermons in many Christian pulpits today. A lot of self-help or imitating society but not really a lot of Jesus and His Word.
All of this seeks to show deceit in Jesus' mouth. Either making Him say something He didn't say. Or making Him say something He wouldn't say. What Jesus had to say He said in the Scriptures. And there is no deceit in the Scriptures. The Scriptures do not lie. They do not err. They are the written and spoken Word of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom there is no deceit.
But Jesus doesn't retaliate against those who speak ill of Him or seek to prove deceit. “When He was reviled, He did not revile in return.” The Sanhedrin reviled Jesus with their false accusations. Pilate reviled Jesus as he gave into the pressure from the riotous crowd and handed Jesus over to be crucified. The Roman soldiers reviled Jesus with their mocking. But what does Jesus do? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” Instead of retaliation, Jesus forgives. Crucified Jesus does not avenge. He is the Prince of Peace.
As the Prince of Peace, “when He suffered, He did not threaten.” He could have called down twelve legions of angels to rescue Him. He could have called down fire from Heaven to consume everyone who wouldn't listen. But Jesus didn't do any of those things. He suffered with compassion because you needed Him to suffer and die. All Creation would keep running toward judgment and destruction had Jesus not suffered for the sins of the world.
While Jesus did talk often about those who wouldn't listen being thrown out into outer darkness, when He suffered, He spoke only words of faith, hope and love. He spoke words of faith as He promised the repentant thief a place in Paradise, sought God's refreshment for His thirst, and announced the completion of His sacrifice. He spoke words of hope when He announced that He had been forsaken by God for your sake and committed His Spirit to the Father. He spoke words of love when He asked for forgiveness for those who nailed Him to the cross and gave His mother Mary into St. John's care.
Jesus spoke these words while He “continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.” Throughout all His suffering, Jesus entrusted Himself to God the Father. Everything Jesus suffered was for you so that you might live. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This abundant life is the salvation of your soul through the forgiveness of your sins. Forgiveness won as “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree.”
The Good Shepherd laid down His life for you. “He who gives life did death undergo.” He died so that “we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” He has healed you by the wounds He suffered. “Blessed Jesus, You have bought us; we are Yours.” In Baptism, you “have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
Having returned to Him, what does it mean to entrust yourself to God? The Greek word here is παραδιδωμι. The word used for “handing over.” Also the word used about Judas, who betrayed Jesus. You hand over your problems and cares and concerns to Jesus. Laying them at the foot of His cross. Where He took them all upon Himself in the first place.
While Jesus suffered the mockery, the shame and the agony of the Passion, He fully entrusted Himself to the Father. He handed everything over to Him because God was fulfilling His just judgment. Jesus allowed God's just judgment to come upon Himself instead of you so that you might live before Him. Handing everything over to Him so that you can celebrate His death and resurrection. The salvation of your soul from the full cross and the empty tomb.
“Go spread the news: He's not in the grave. He has arisen this world to save.” The Easter call goes out to every Christian. Spread the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ risen from the dead. Ascended into Heaven. Seated at the right hand of God. Where He intercedes for you and ensures that “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Goodness and mercy through Jesus' suffering example. Not completely an example for us to follow and emulate. An example of what God's love does.
Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!) Amen.