On Sunday the Sunset pastor continued our series, “First Peter—Trials, Pilgrimage, Courage and Hope,” with a message, “In the Steps of Christ’s Suffering.” The text was from 1 Peter 2:24: “He bore our sins in his body on the tree… by his stripes you have been healed.”
Today we come to one of the most painful—yet profound—Scriptures in the entire Bible. The subject is that of suffering. The Scripture is painful because it speaks in v19 of “the pain of unjust suffering” in the world.
The pastor made two points: (1) Christ’s Suffering in His World; and (2) What about Christians in Our World?
(1) Christ’s Suffering in His World. Peter says, v21: “Christ suffered for you… He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats….”
In a just and fair world Jesus would have been universally praised and honored. However, He was a holy man coming against the opposition of an unholy world. In the end, he suffered and died for it.
But in this most famous of Scriptures, and in the profound wisdom of Almighty God, a wisdom which is above ours and which is foolishness to an unbelieving world, Jesus did not die for anything he had done wrong. Peter declares that Christ died for us. His suffering and death had redemptive value, and we—his unworthy creation —are the blessed beneficiaries.
In this world—full of physical, moral, spiritual and emotional sickness, we all need healing. V24: “By his wounds you have been healed.”
(2) What about Christians in Our World? Christ suffered, but what about his followers? Peter talks about it in v21: “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
Somebody said, Why me? I’ve done no wrong. Why do I have to suffer? A better question is this: I live as a follower of a holy God, the Lord Jesus Christ, in an unholy world. Why should I not have to suffer?
But even our suffering for Christ is redemptive.
An American Christian was visiting his family in a country where Christians are severely persecuted. He was arrested, charged with being a spy, and put in a slave labor camp with an eight-year sentence at hard labor. He slaved away busting rocks day after day, 12 hours a day, six days a week. When he lost lots of weight, he would be placed in a hospital where he would recover his strength and then go back to busting rocks. At first he hated his two guards, who sat watching him, leisurely smoking cigarettes, day after day. But one day he realized that God had also made and loved them, and his heart changed toward them. He even became joyful in his work, and friendly toward his captors, smiling and speaking a bit to them.
One day they asked him, How can you be so happy working here when we—with our troubled families and empty life—are so sad? He shared with them just a bit of God’s love (it was illegal to speak the gospel). One day he was released early to go back to the U.S. When he did he said goodbye with a heavy heart for the well-being of his guards, and with a hope to return again someday to help them, and they expressed that they hoped he could.
V20: “If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.” In those hours and days of suffering for doing good, God will give abundant grace.
We’re looking forward to our annual Sunset revival services on October 2-4 (6:00 p.m. Sunday, 7:00 p.m. Monday-Tuesday), with local preachers Vicki Braun, Josh Lindsey and Dennis Ivey. We’ll have special music and refreshments nightly, and we hope you’ll be able to join us.
“A thousand may fall at your side, then thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you….” [Psalm 91:7, 11]
May the Lord guard and protect you this week—our prayer for you from your friends at Sunset Christian Church.