Wounds that heal! Devotional Commentary for July 17-23
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
19For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.
20For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
The closing verse of last week's meditation exhorts servants to submit themselves to the authority of their masters, both to the kind and the unkind. This respectful demeanor calls servants to respond to their masters' authority as unto the Lord, instead of reacting in kind to their behavior. That is, servants are admonished to glorify God in their position as servants.
Peter's optimism in this regard is fascinating. He encourages believers to rest in the Grace of God and not lose their peace over what evil forces can bring against them. He tells Christians to confront evil by simply doing the right thing even when evil continues to react against the right, the good, and the godly. God's favor will be upon His children especially when they suffer for doing the right thing as unto the Lord. His Grace will abound. He will give the endurance to persevere as He works out His Purpose satisfied by and through the experience.
But Peter warns against suffering deserved as a result of bad behavior or misdeed. For such, says Peter, there is no commiseration. There is nothing good or right in coalescing with evil. Consequences will certainly be reaped.
21For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,
22WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;
23and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
24and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
25For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
Even though Peter chose to speak in the context of master/servant relationships, his point is much broader and more inclusive. His message is to all Christians as God's servants. The essence of his teaching is more about their response to hostilities and less about deference for its own sake. So he urges Christians to follow the example set for us by Jesus Christ.
Christ suffered. He did not sin. No falsehood or deceit ever came out of His mouth. Yet he suffered at the hands of wicked men for doing the right thing, the righteous thing, the merciful thing, the gracious thing. Yes Christ suffered in keeping with His commitment to fulfill His Father's Will. But Peter drew our attention more to how He responded to His enemies, to those who persecuted Him, to those who reviled Him, to those who viewed Him with a scornful attitude, to those who were determined to destroy Him and to smother His Gospel—yet He actually prayed for them, interceded for them with His Father.
Cautiously yet with earnest seriousness, Peter hints that suffering-for-Christ's-sake is a significant aspect of Christian experience due to the world's hostile attitude toward the Spirit of God in the believer's redeemed heart. So he says to follow Christ's example in responding to hostilities. Christ entrusted Himself to His Father Who is the Righteous and Just Judge, instead of taking matters into His own hands. He remained obedient even to death on the Cross, so that we might die to sin and not respond sinfully but be alive in His Righteousness.
The Father is pleased with His Son and His redemptive purpose is completely fulfilled through Him. He Who knew no sin was made to be as sin in lieu of sinners so that those who are guilty of sin might become the Righteousness of Christ unto God. Out of His stripes and His wound flowed redemption and healing so that the lost might be saved and those who went astray are restored to the loving and enduring care of the Good Shepherd. Peter urges suffering Christians to totally entrust themselves to God just as Christ did and witness God's Purpose fully accomplished in them. So fulfill the Will of God in you through obedience, conquering evil with God's goodness.
Peter's instructions can be easily misunderstood especially when reviewed on face value. They might appear to suggest that we, either resign to a rigid fate of a sweeping miserable life as Christians, or absorb suffering as a necessary trademark of our faith. But nothing could be farther from the Truth.
Peter's words shed light on the world's hostile attitude toward the things of God especially when openly reflected in the lives of God's children. Jesus said that those who persecuted Him would also persecute His followers. Those who hated Him would also hate His adherents who believed in Him for their salvation.
Peter simply admonishes us not to be surprised by the hardships we face because of our faith in Christ as well as our services to God. While we should not look for suffering or welcome trials and tribulations for their own sake, we nevertheless ought to follow Jesus's example and respond to such and all situations with a non-vengeful attitude seeking no retaliation to avenge ourselves. Instead, we entrust ourselves to God and press on toward the finish line marked for us by Jesus Christ. We ought to firmly stand on the Rock with a quiet confidence in the Righteous and Just Judge, God the Almighty our Father.
We endure because we are preserved by our Father. The path of our pilgrimage might take us through peaks and valleys of painful and unpleasant experiences. However, it will always lead back to the Good Shepherd, the Guardian of our souls, Who is wounded for our transgressions and Who nailed our sins to the Cross with His Body. Yes there will be peace, there is peace in the valley for us because God our Father is at peace with us in Jesus Christ.