Last time we looked at Peter’s command to slaves or servants in 1 Peter 2v19. The command was for them to always submit themselves to their masters – “not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust”. We saw that the reason for that lay in the proper Christian response to any form of unjust suffering. That proper response is to endure it and we saw three reasons for doing so. Firstly, we’re to endure unjust suffering because doing so is commendable to God. Secondly, we’re to endure unjust suffering because doing so is living out our calling. Thirdly, we’re to endure unjust suffering because doing so is being Christ like in that we’re following His example.
We closed last time by looking at the words that we find in 1 Peter 2v21: “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”. That contains the statement “Christ also suffered for you”. That speaks of Jesus who suffered and those for whom Jesus suffered. Peter goes on to expand on Christ’s suffering for you in the remainder of the chapter. He says in verses 22 to 25: “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 passage draws heavily on Isaiah 53. Peter doesn’t give exact quotations but the allusions to statements and ideas in Isaiah 53 are unmistakeable.
Beginning today we’re going to concentrate on the fact of Christ’s suffering by looking at v22-24a under the title “The suffering saviour.” When we’ve completed this section (this being the first of four posts) we’ll concentrate on the effect of Christ’s suffering by looking at v24b-25 under the title “The saved sinners”.
The Suffering Saviour
From verses 22-24a there are five things for us to notice about what Peter had to say about Jesus “The suffering Saviour”.
1 Peter 2:22-24 ESV
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.
The first thing that Peter went on to say about our suffering saviour is that:
Jesus committed no sin
Having said that “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” Peter went on in v22 to say: “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth”.
In doing so, Peter was drawing on the words of Isaiah 53v9 and applying them to Jesus in order to establish the fact that Jesus is perfectly sinless. Peter wasn’t just saying that Jesus had been able to resist sinning when He suffered. He was saying that Jesus never sinned in any way or at any time. That is the consistent teaching of the New Testament.
In John 8v46 we see that Jesus was confident that no-one could convict Him of sin. He said: “Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” Why was He so confident that no-one could convict Him of sin? It was because He was perfect. He was without sin. There were no skeletons in the cupboard.
In John 18v38 we read: “Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him””. So Pilate could find no sin in Him.
In 2 Corinthians 5v20-21 Paul said: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. He said that Christ was Him “who knew no sin”. As He went to die on the cross He bore our sin and died because of our sin but He had no sin of His own. He’d lived a completely perfect life.
In Hebrews 4v15 we read: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin”. Jesus wasn’t sinless because He’d had an easier life than we do. He was subjected to all the temptations that we experience but He never succumbed to them. He was “without sin”.
In 1 John 3v5 we read: “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin”.
So, the New Testament consistently asserts that Jesus was without sin. He was perfect in every way. He was sinless. Why is Peter emphasising that Jesus is without sin at this point? Well Peter had been speaking of how believers should respond to unjust and undeserved suffering and had said that Christ in His suffering had left us an example to follow. The point that Peter is establishing here is that Jesus did not deserve to suffer in any way because He was sinless. As Peter said, Jesus “suffered for you” – not because He deserved to suffer.
Having established that Jesus was sinless and so did not deserve to suffer the next thing that Peter went on to say about Him was that:
We read in verse 23a: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten”. So, firstly, we see that Jesus was “reviled”. That really refers to Him being subjected to insulting and abusive speech. We see that especially during His trial and crucifixion. For instance, look at Matthew 27v28-31 where we read: “And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him”.
Or look a little later in Matthew 27 at verses 39 to 44 where we read: “And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way”. You see how everyone reviled Him.
We’re told that “those who passed by derided him”.
We’re told that “the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him”.
We’re told that “the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way”.
This provides an amazing insight into fallen human nature! When confronted with divine perfection, instead of marvelling and worshipping, fallen human beings respond with contempt and mocking and reviling. None the less, some would quote the old adage “sticks and stones might break my bones but words can never hurt me”. I think we all realise how hurtful unkind words can be but reviling wasn’t the only way in which Jesus suffered.
Besides being “reviled”, Peter also says that He “suffered”. That surely means actual, physical, bodily suffering. In Matthew 26v67-68 we read: “Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”” There we have a degree of physical suffering combined with mockery but His suffering really culminated in the agony of His crucifixion. And, that was so much more than terrible physical suffering. In the account of Jesus on the cross we read in Matthew 27v46: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” That speaks of His spiritual suffering. He had been one with God the Father and God the Spirit from eternity and now He was God forsaken. I don’t think we can begin to imagine such suffering. He was God. He was sinless and yet He was God forsaken.