An Example in Suffering

1 Peter 2:21-24
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

What was the example that Christ gave to us through his crucifixion?  Peter has been talking about suffering, and certainly none of our suffering can really compare to what He endured.  But there are still some lessons we can learn.  First of all, Jesus did not sin, yet He suffered greatly.  So, too, we will sometimes suffer even when we have done nothing wrong.  Jesus did not sin before His crucifixion.  There was no legal reason for Him to be there.  He had done nothing to warrant being punished and executed.  But He also did not sin during His crucifixion.  Through all of it, He did not say or do anything wrong.

Sometimes when something happens to us through no fault of our own, we may be tempted to retaliate or lash out somehow.  But we can follow Jesus’ example of not resorting to sin in the midst of our trial.  He did not seek payback on those who put Him on that cross.  He did not repay evil with evil.  He did not seek to hurt those who hurt Him.  Instead, He committed Himself to a righteous judge.  He trusted the justice of His Father.  He placed His situation into the capable hands of the ruler of all the earth, and we can do the same.

Jesus bore the sins of others.  He bore our sins.  He endured all that unrightful suffering for the sake of all people.  He gave a precious gift through His suffering.  He benefited many by bearing a punishment He did not deserve.  He made it possible for us to be free from sin, to be forgiven, to be made righteous.  Sometimes our suffering is for the good of someone else.  Sometimes someone else will benefit from what we have to endure.  Sometimes the healing of another will come from the way we endure whatever is happening to us.

One final lesson is that perhaps through our experience we can be an example to someone else.  Maybe there will be someone who doesn’t know Jesus who sees us endure some great suffering with faith and grace and peace.  Maybe the way we handle our situation will be an encouragement to someone who later faces a similar trial.  Maybe by imitating our Savior in something as unwelcome as suffering, we can show Jesus to someone who needs to experience His great healing for themselves.

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