Communicators of the gospel message are always searching for the ‘perfect’ illustration, a brief story which nails down the meaning or application in a lesson or sermon.
As Peter encourages suffering saints, he draws their attention to the ‘Perfect’ illustration of coping with suffering, namely JESUS who is called the CHRIST.
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.” (1 Peter 2:21-22 NIV)
Why did Christ suffer for the suffering saints? Your answer to that question exposes your understanding of justification. What do the Scriptures teach? “Christ died for our sins….” Christ settled the debt of our sin by paying for it through His death. God’s wrath is turned away from us because Christ is our Mediator, the One who bore the full punishment for our sins.
Some people skip this step. Through my life on the planet which seems to be marching forward now that I’m in the “Grandpa” phase of parenting, I’ve met some wonderful people. Some of them live exemplary lives and in discussion with them I’ve discovered they are following Christ as an example. They never spoke of Him as Saviour and Lord but rather their Supreme Example.
So let’s follow their train of thought – Follow the example of Jesus Christ and you’ll be accepted by God. Verse 22 certainly raises the bar high, doesn’t it? “He committed no sin…..” If my acceptance with God rests on committing no sin, I have no hope! In thought, word and deed I fall short of God’s glory. I need forgiveness. “God be merciful to me, the sinner,” is a prayer I’ve prayed. “Thank you Lord Jesus for paying my debt upon the cross.” As a favourite song declares, “Everyone needs forgiveness, the kindness of a Saviour…..”
So where does the example come in? Having been accepted by God on the basis of Christ’s death for my sin, I face life issues in His strength. Since I am a child of God (John 1:10-12), since I have believed on the Name of Christ, I now enjoy God’s help as a member of His family. I am in the ‘school of suffering’ with Christ. I have the resources of God made available to me for all that God has lined up for me to experience.
Let me close this brief meditation with two encouraging texts.
Colossians 2:9,10 reminds me that “In Christ, ALL the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form. And I am COMPLETE in CHRIST who is the head of every power and authority;” and as Peter elsewhere reminds me, “His (God’s) divine power has given me everything I need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him……”
Yes, I need Christ as an example, but FIRST I must meet Him as my Saviour! Praise God for the good news – “JESUS SAVES, JESUS SAVES!”