1 Peter 2:23-25
We finish chapter 2 of 1 Peter today and I feel a tension. Two truths are presented. Our lives will experience injustice and wrongs. Sin is sin and people get hurt. We cannot deny that. On the other hand Peter presents Jesus as our model to follow.
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate, when he suffered, he made no threats, instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (v. 23)”
How is Peter understanding the cross and responses by Jesus to trials? These words encourage us to look inside ourselves and look at the words we use to describe the cross experience. Was Jesus just passively allowing evil to beat him up to pay the penalty for our sin? Did God just absorb evil to eliminate it so we can go to heaven? Should an abused wife continue to submit to beatings of an alcoholic husband because Jesus submitted to the cross? Often the abuser will use that reasoning to justify abuse but I do not think that is what Peter is saying. Turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, and giving away our coat are words of advice we receive. I believe there are deeper questions to be pondered. If what I am doing is pointless, then submission is passive resignation to a situation I am trapped in. Then my suffering serves no purpose. We call it martyring, deceiving ourselves that we are acting like Jesus.
Jesus’ suffering was neither passive nor purposeless. He walked through horrible suffering in his identification with humanity, true man. In the process he confronted all participants involved with truth – “I am the way, the truth and the life” – even to Pilot. He offered eternal life to the thief who turned to him on the cross – “today you will be with me in Paradise”. He restored the ear to the man in the Garden of Gethsemane. He told Peter that Peter would betray but Jesus would pray for him. Jesus proved that he is stronger than the worse evil that we can experience and rose three days later proving life in God cannot be destroyed – for you and me. Suffering confronts us with the tension to martyr for our own glory or suffering to benefit others. It is never easy to see the way forward in these situations and so the help, insight and wisdom of others is often needed.
As we watch the news and ponder how we will respond to the ethical dilemmas facing our culture today we need God’s wisdom. Let us pray for judges, lawyers, and law officials who deal with crime and law daily. Lord have mercy!”T