Sojourn: Toward an Enduring City
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 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. 22 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. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright (c)2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org
As Jesus lived, so must we.
This is the logic central to Peter’s charge to us in this passage. Jesus suffered for doing good, and so must we. While suffering, Jesus refrained from reviling or threatening, and so must we. Jesus endured, and so must we. As Peter says in Verse 21, “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.” United to Jesus by faith and commissioned to carry on His mission, we are now called reflect Him as servants and sufferers.
To many, this call seems impossibly high. How can we serve like Him when the siren song of self is so strong? How can we suffer like Him when our hearts are hard-wired for retribution? To those of us still struggling with the more ordinary, everyday challenges of Christlikeness, the call to follow Christ into the pain of unjust suffering seems too extraordinary. How could we possibly prepare to endure the day of such suffering?
As Jesus prepared, so must we.
Jesus prepared by cultivating a certain belief and practice, one which began long before His suffering and sustained Him through it. Peter names it in the second half of Verse 23, saying, “When He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.” Jesus endured through His suffering by entrusting Himself to His Heavenly Father. The language of entrusting is the language of stewardship. Entrusting is more than believing something to be true; it is the practice giving over of responsibility to another person. Jesus did not merely trust His Father; He actively gave Himself over to His Father. Into the Father’s hands Jesus entrusted His will and His life, including the terror of unjust suffering. We see this entrusting belief and practice actively expressed in Jesus’ prayers, His use of God’s Word, and in His committing every detail of His life to His Heavenly Father.
While the circumstances of our suffering may be different, we too are called to entrust ourselves into the hands of our Heavenly Father. Like Jesus, our will and life is to be given over to God. To some, this may feel passive, irresponsible, or perhaps even reckless. But there is nothing more practical, wise, and secure than to actively entrust ourselves and all that we have into the hands of our God. For our God is faithful and trustworthy steward of our lives. As Peter says in his conclusion, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good (1 Peter 4:19).”