Fourth Sunday of Easter (May 7, 2017)
1 Peter 2:19-25 | New Living Translation (NLT)
For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
He never sinned,
nor ever deceived anyone.
He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
who always judges fairly.
He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed.
Once you were like sheep
who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
the Guardian of your souls.
The text that we have before us this morning is a difficult text – not so much in what it say, but in what it asks us to do. Peter writes, “For God called you to do good…” We can all agree with that, but listen to what is next, “even, if it means suffering…” Humans dislike suffering. We like to be comfortable. It is not fun to be uncomfortable. Peter is reminding us here that there will be times – and it seems to be the rule rather than the exception – that you will suffer for doing good. We are reminded that very thing happened to Jesus. He is our example. It is Jesus that we follow and we need to follow his example. It looks like Peter is paraphrasing parts of Isaiah 53, which we know as a messianic passage. It tells us of the suffering of Christ. What Peter writes tells us of how Christ reacted for doing good. We are challenged to follow Jesus – the Good Shepherd. If you look at each passage from today’s reading, you will notice that theme of the Good Shepherd.
What I find interesting is that this section of scripture is written to those who are servants. Peter uses the word slaves. Listen to the words that Peter writes, “For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment.” Like I said, I don’t think that is hard to understand, but I believe it is hard to practice. We do want to retaliate when it feels like justice has not been served. But again, that is not how it was with Jesus.
I do like this gentle reminder, “Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong.” It is a reminded that sometimes we do wrong and we expect punishment not to be handed out. There are times that we do things that we deserve what we get, but again Peter reminds us that, “If you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.”
Today I encourage you to go out and live as Jesus did. Let him be your example – let him be your Good Shepherd.