1 Peter - Part 17 - 2:21-25 - 5-28-2017
Called to This
Called to This
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.
The last two weeks we’ve been looking at what Peter has to say to us about submission to earthly authorities and obedience. He communicate’s rather clearly that the life of a Christian is to be one of obedience to God and holiness and that we are to honor everyone, love our fellow Christians, fear God, and honor the emperor. Peter says this is what we are called to, this holy, righteous, and obedient living even in worst of circumstances and living conditions. In today’s passage Peter says we’re actually called to lives of suffering in this. Isn’t that interesting? You ever feel like you’re suffering when you do good? Like it would just be so much easier to do the wrong thing? I’ll be honest there’s many times I’ve wondered how much easier it would just be to be a pagan, to believe in nothing, to sin and indulge. It seems so easy to me to just commit acts of sin and villany doing whatever I please. But this is not what I was called to, this is not what you were called to, this is not what we are called to. We aren’t called to take the path of least resistance. We aren’t called to do things the easy way. We are called to do things the right way. To take the narrow path. To live a life where we suffer for doing right. And I know what you’re thinking - John you really gotta work on your sales pitch for this thing bud! But here’s the thing - I’m not trying to sell you anything - I’m calling out as a voice in the wilderness urging the elect of God, His true sheep to follow in Christ’s footsteps. And for many the suffering won’t be worth it. When times get tough, when living obediently becomes inconvenient, when sacrifice is required they will fall away showing their true colors as people who are not only far from Christ Jesus, but actually never knew Him at all. For those who are Christians, the elect and chosen of God no matter how hard the way becomes, no matter how we suffer we will delight to follow in the steps of our Lord, simply for the fact that they are His steps.
Because of the attributes and characteristics Peter lists next.
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.
1 Peter 2:22
Do you see how wonderful the one who we follow is? Do you see the steps of Him who we call Lord and Savior? They are steps that I am unworthy to walk in and the footprints that my feet fall into I will never measure up to. They are steps that I am grateful for and that as Christians should produce in all of us a deep and abiding thanksgiving. What makes us so thankful? Well let’s breakdown what Peter says.
Jesus committed no sin - Jesus was perfect - period. I don’t mean perfect in that he never got tired, never got a skinned knee, never tripped over a stone, had flawless skin, or pearly white teeth. I mean perfect spiritually. In Jesus was no sin. He literally never sinned outwardly or inwardly. He kept the law perfectly, fulfilling more than just the letter of the law as we human beings are so fond of doing - rather Jesus fulfilled the fulness of the law, keeping the spirit of it. What does that mean? It means that while the law says do not murder, Jesus didn’t even harbor malice in his heart for a person. Let me ask you - how many times have you wished someone were gone? Maybe you didn’t specifically wish they were dead, but you wished they would just disappear and never return? Maybe they decided to take a one way trip to the middle of nowhere or a long walk off a short pier wearing concrete shoes? I don’t know - whatever your specific thoughts were I’m sure you’re like me and you can’t say that you never wished ill for another person in your whole life. But Jesus, he was perfect, utterly and completely without sin. Why should that make us thankful? Because the only way that Jesus could be the sacrifice for our sins is if he was like the lamb without blemish or spot in the Old Testament. If Jesus was just another sinful man like the rest of us than His death means nothing and we are dead in our sins still. But if Jesus was the sinless God-man than we have in Him the sacrifice once and for all for every one of our sins. And that should make us thankful.
Deceit was not found in His mouth - Jesus was not a liar. He never lied in fact Jesus says that He is indeed the Truth. He Himself is Truth. Jesus, the God-man, by His very nature is Truth. Lies and deception are entirely and completely contrary to His nature. The Bible even goes so far as to say that God cannot lie. Jesus being God cannot lie. It is contrary to who and what He is. If I asked you to flap your arms and fly could you do it? If I offered you a million dollars to do it could you? If I put a gun to your head and threatened you could do it? No, no matter how much you desired it and no matter how much I pressed you to do it you could not flap your arms and begin to fly. Why? Because you are not a bird - you’re a human being and you cannot violate the nature of who and what you are. It is unreasonable and irrational for me to demand of you something that is contrary to your nature. Jesus cannot lie, because He is the Truth. So why does this produce thankfulness in us as Christians? Because we never need worry about whether He will keep His promises or not. We don’t need to worry that Jesus will suddenly yank the rug out from under us on the whole forgiveness thing. We don’t need to wring our hands wondering if Jesus actually meant it when He promised to forgive us. Because He does not and cannot lie. What He has said He will do He will do, because who He claims to be is who He really is - the God-man, God incarnate, God wrapped in flesh, the advent of our one eternal and true God.
Jesus did not respond in kind - Peter says that even though Jesus was reviled he did not revile in return. Even though he suffered he did not return that suffering upon those who inflicted it or even threaten them in return. Jesus even though He is God, the rightful and righteous judge of us all did not bring upon mankind what they so immediately deserved. When Jesus came in the flesh he should have been recognized for who He is and worshipped. He is deserving as God to be given all glory, honor, and praise. His creations should kneel in holy fear before him. But instead they treated him with disrespect and loathing. They hated him, we have hated him. Yet He did not and does not usually visit his righteous wrath upon sinners, but patiently does as He wills for His glory and the good of those who love Him. This is one of the things about God that always amazes me - His longsuffering patience. His kindness and a type of general mercy are shown to all mankind in that many times we are not struck dead immediately for our sins. Can you imagine a world where God instantly punished sin with it’s just reward - death. Old Jim Bob decided to lie on his taxes and boom, he drops dead. I don’t think a single human being would be left standing if God immediately punished sin like that. In much the same way as many denied Jesus deity and mocked Him, He chose to patiently wait, not respond in kind, not to immediately deliver justice, but to delay that justice for the greater cause of showering mercy and grace upon His chosen people. Why does this make us grateful? Because it shows us how wonderfully patient and kind God is to us.
He bore our sins - Peter says one of the most important and central truths of Christianity that Jesus bore our sins. That phrase is so very important to understand. This isn’t a metaphor, Jesus quite literally in a way that is beyond human understanding took upon himself in the flesh the full weight and burden of the sins of His people. We need to understand this image as Peter intended to the very best of our ability. Peter being a Jew is intimately familiar with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and all the ritual and ceremony that went along with it. During the day of atonement two goats were used in sacred ritual to symbolize spiritual truths. One goat was sacrificed as an temporary and substitutionary payment of spiritual debt, the right punishment and wages of sin - which is always death. This sacrifice was meant to represent the satisfaction of justice and wrath. But then there was also another goat - the scapegoat. This goat the High Priest would take and lay his hands on its head confessing the sins of the people and transferring the sins of the people to it he would release the goat into the wilderness symbolizing the fact that God had removed the sins from the people, just as the goat was removed from the community. Peter rightly understands that these Old Testament sacrifices were imperfect and temporary - where two goats were needed to accomplish the task before, one perfect sacrifice now sufficed once and for all. Jesus our perfect sacrifice not only dies the death we deserve granting us life, but removes from us our sin giving us a righteousness that we certainly haven’t earned and a new nature that hates and despises sin. Jesus death makes you dead to sin. Jesus resurrection makes you alive to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. How could this make us anything but grateful my friends?
Jesus the lamb without blemish or spot loves us so deeply as to take every sin upon himself in the flesh, suffering and dying that we may be healed, forgiven, cleansed, regenerated, and given life. If you are a Christian you are a recipient of this unmerited, undeserved grace and every second of your existence should be spent in thanksgiving, pouring out worship and magnifying His holy name.
Why? Because you and I are like the stupid sheep in the flock that goes wondering off in search of greener pastures. We go wandering away from Jesus, the shepherd and overseer of our souls. We leave the one who loves us and protects us and rather than leaving us to our rightly deserved fate Jesus comes hunting us down and returning us to the fold. By His grace and His work and His goodness we have returned to His fold and my friends this is cause for thanksgiving and celebration.
Some of you today have yet to experience this - today I implore you to throw yourselves upon the mercy of Jesus Christ, to come to Him humbly in worship and thanksgiving trusting that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. Today if you need to confess the truth that He is Lord, we’re going to have a time of invitation for you to do just that. For everyone else who already trusts in Jesus this is a time for worshipping Him in thanksgiving. Let’s do those things now as we stand and sing together.