“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” (1 Peter 2:20b-21 NIV).
To respond in a godly way when we’re treated unjustly is a sore test. We don’t want to be misunderstood, maligned, mocked, belittled, berated, or worse. We want people to like us. We don’t want to follow these footsteps. We want to jump the tracks. Yet, in setting this example in his suffering, Jesus left us the most useful tool for our transformation.
The “example” here is hypogrammon, a writing copy, a template, a pattern to imitate. When I craft my bible studies for consumption, I use a template. In this way, I don’t have to reinvent the wheel for each section study. I open the template and follow the pattern. But I adjust the text, the questions, the cross references, the word definitions, and the application for each section.
This is how we apply Christ’s example. When someone attacks us unjustly, we follow his model, adjusting our responses to imitate his.
So, what’s the model?
- In the worst and most painful situation of his life, Jesus did not sin in any way.
- Neither did any nasty, snarky, or retaliatory words come out of his mouth.
- When his false accusers hurled threats at him, he kept his mouth shut, not lying in return.
- While they beat him, spit on him, tore out his beard, subjected him to a mockery of a trial, and nailed him to a cross, he made no threats.
Consider that Jesus is the creator of the universe, the author of life. With one word, he could have scorched the planet, eradicating humanity. In a similar situation, I would have blasted the earth.
With a simple thought, he could have called hordes of angels. In the OT, Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed for God’s help when the Assyrians besieged Jerusalem. God sent one angel. That angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night (2 Kings 19:8-37). Had I been Jesus, I would have called the angels.
But for all eternity, I’ll be glad he doesn’t respond like I do. While possessing all the power of Almighty God, how did Jesus display such God-like self-control? It is above and beyond my ability, yet he calls me to follow in his steps.
What considerations empowered his actions? These also empower ours.
He always entrusted himself to the God who judges justly. The holy and just God sees. He will bring justice. He doesn’t need our help in doing so. This is the key to bearing up under our own suffering and maltreatment without seeking vengeance or being consumed by bitterness.
His motive was love. God is love. As God, Jesus is always true to his character. Love is who he is. The eternal plan had always been to redeem us. Our redemption required his death. Had he removed himself, we would be doomed. And so, though possessing all power and might, he kept himself on that cross because he loves us.
Because he died for us, we are empowered to die to our sinfulness and to learn righteousness. His death pays for our sins. His resurrection justifies us legally in God’s eyes. These two actions combined make us his and transform us into his image, giving us the ability to follow in his footsteps, to forgive the unforgivable, and to love the unlovable.
Not only is Christ the model. He is the cure.
Our healing involves adhering to him, scrutinizing his actions and his character, modeling ourselves after him, and heeding his Holy Spirit within us. We allow him to shepherd us, carefully placing our footsteps right into his tracks. To this we were called. This is commendable. This is the Christian life.
How is he enabling you to follow his model? How is he healing you?
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