August 1, 2022
We can't actually do what Jesus did.
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.
1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,” 1 2:7 Greek the head of the corner
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, 2 2:13 Or every institution ordained for people whether it be to the emperor 3 2:13 Or king; also verse 17 as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants 4 2:16 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 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. 21 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. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 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. 24 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. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Justice is one of God's many attributes, and for a lot of us, it's one of the easier attributes to understand. Maybe it's because many of us live in a country with a strong legal system that helps us understand what it means to be just.
Simply put, justice implies that what is owed by people for their actions must be rightfully paid. It's a synonym for fairness. We get upset when we feel our personal liberty has been violated by another, and we don't enjoy our autonomy being "unfairly" limited.
In light of our understanding of justice, passages like 1 Peter 2 are incredibly comforting for believers and challenging for anyone trusting in their own "good" actions. In this chapter, we see a contrast between Jesus, the only righteous one (Romans 3:11-12), and the people who follow Him. In an unjust situation, Jesus willingly gives up His autonomy and personal liberty. The result? Obedience to the point of death, leading to life and deliverance of sins for those who would follow after Him. He is the suffering servant (Isaiah 53)!
His followers are to imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1). However, this is not in a "what would Jesus do" kind of way. Instead, we are to consider what He has done for us and live differently in light of that. We cannot do what Jesus would do, apart from God's Spirit enabling our obedience. Left to ourselves, we are very different from our Master. Faced with name-calling, threats, or liberties taken away, I know I'm like the Apostle Peter in the Gospels . . . either running for the hills or trying to fight back. Jesus did neither.
As you move through a life of pursuing sanctification, remember that your God is the One who judges justly and that vengeance belongs to Him alone. (1 Peter 2:23; Romans 12:19; Deuteronomy 32:35) When justice seems to be absent, or an unrighteous deed goes unnoticed, don't put up your fists or bring out your keyboard; trust in the only One who has ever been just—He can bear the weight.
1. Are there certain issues about which you feel the need to be God's lawyer or justice team? Does He need your help? What is your method or metric for determining whether your action is warranted?
2. Is there a part of you that is trying to repay God for the righteousness He has credited to you? Are you trying to prove to Him that His gift of grace and mercy to you was not wasted? Do you pay friends back on your birthday when they buy you a gift? How can you operate more out of Christ's love and less out of your desire to balance the scales today?