This is our 3rd week in the book of 1st Peter, whom most scholars believe was written by Peter, however, there has been some recent argument about who the author is.
This letter is a letter that offered hope and encouragement to Christians who had been scattered throughout the Roman Empire seeking to avoid persecution. To those who were suffering as a result of their belief in Christ.
In chapter one we learned that no matter what we are going through we always have hope—as followers of Christ we have an inheritance that is kept for us in heaven. Heaven is our real home. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and eternity. Life here on earth is temporary. It’s very short-lived.
We also learned that as followers of Christ, suffering and persecution is to be expected. In chapter 2 we learn how we’re to act in the midst of suffering.
Listen to 1st Peter chapter 2:18-25. Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps. “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. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
As His followers, this is the kind of life we’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so we would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.
Please note the believers we’re talking about here in these scriptures were slaves, whose owners were not believers, or even possibly some wives whose husband or family did not believe. Often persecution experienced came through the slave owners or family members rather than the Romans.
The audience of this letter was told that when persecuted they were to behave as Christ did when facing persecution. How did Christ behave when He was arrested, beaten, mocked, spit on and nailed to the cross?
In the garden of Gethsemane when one of the disciples drew his sword and cut off the soldier’s ear, what did Jesus do? He told the disciple to put his sword away and he healed the soldier’s ear.
All throughout His arrest, trial, flogging, and carrying the cross up Golgotha, He never did one thing wrong, not once did He say anything amiss. He suffered in silence. He didn’t defend Himself as you might expect. Instead, He was content to let God set things right – to enact judgment – knowing that the Father is just. And finally, when dying on the cross He asked His Father to forgive those who persecuted Him.
Jesus expected His followers to behave in the same manner when experiencing persecution. And guess what? It’s His expectation for His followers now. Again, these scriptures are related to experiencing suffering for doing the right thing. For being Godly. For taking a stand for the widow, the oppressed, the orphan, the foreigner, the sick. For doing what is right.
There are other scriptures that speak to suffering in general as a result of sin, or foolishness or living in a fallen world.